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Hugh Anson-Cartwright 




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In 1887, with the view of amplifying and completing 
certain new doctrines which he had merely sketched in 
Beyond Good and Evil (see especially Aphorism 260), 
Nietzsche published The Genealogy 0} Morals. This work 
is perhaps the least aphoristic, in form, of all Nietzsche's 
productions. For analytical power, more especially in 
those parts where Nietzsche examines the ascetic ideal, 
The Genealogy 0} Morals is unequalled by any other of 
his works; and, in the light which it throws upon the atti- 
tude of the ecclesiast to the man of resentment and mis- 
fortune, it is one of the most valuable contributions to 
sacerdotal psychology. 



Preface ' ., i 

First Essay 

"Good and Evil," "Good and Bad" ... i 
Second Essay 

"Guilt," "Bad Conscience," and the Like 40 
Third Essay 

What Is the Meaning of Ascetic Ideals? 94 
Peoples and Countries 1 7q 



We are unknown, we knowers, ourselves to ourselves: this 
has its own good reason. We have never searched for 
ourselves — how should it then come to pass, that we should 
ever find ourselves? Rightly has it been said: "Where 
your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Our 
treasure is there, where stand the hives of our knowledge. 
It is to those hives that we are always striving; as born 
creatures of flight, and as the honey-gatherers of the 
spirit, we care really in our hearts only for one thing — to 
bring something "home to the hive!" 

As far as the rest of life with its so-called "experiences" 
is concerned, which of us has even sufficient serious inter- 
est? or sufficient time? In our dealings with such points 
of life, we are, I fear, never properly to the point; to be 
precise, our heart is not there, and certainly not our ear. 
Rather like one who, delighting in a divine distraction, 
or sunken in the seas of his own soul, in whose ear the 
clock has just thundered with all its force its twelve strokes 
of noon, suddenly wakes up, and asks himself, "What has 
in point of fact just struck?" so do we at times rub after- 
wards, as it were, our puzzled ears, and ask in complete 
astonishment and complete embarrassment, "Through 
what have we in point of fact just lived?" further, "Who 
are we in point of fact?" and count, after they have struck, 


as I have explained, all the twelve throbbing beats of the 
clock of our experience, of our life, of our being — ah! — 
and count wrong in the endeavour. Of necessity we re- 
main strangers to ourselves, we understand ourselves not, 
in ourselves we are bound to be mistaken, for of us holds 
good to all eternity the motto, "Each one is the farthest 
away from himself" — as far as ourselves are concerned we 
are not "knowers." 


My thoughts concerning the genealogy of our moral 
prejudices — for they constitute the issue in this polemic — 
have their first, bald, and provisional expression in that 
collection of aphorisms entitled Human, all-too-Human. 
a Book for Free Minds, the writing of which was begur 
Sorrento, during a winter which allowed me to gaze ovt r 
the broad and dangerous territory through which my mind 
had up to that time wandered. This took place in the 
winter of 1876-77; the thoughts themselves are older. 

They were in their substance already the same thoughts 
which I take up again in the following treatises: — we hope 
that they have derived benefit from the long interval, 
that they have grown riper, clearer, stronger, more com- 
plete. The fact, however, that I still cling to them even 
now, that in the meanwhile they have always held faster 
by each other, have, in fact, grown out of their original 
shape and into each other, all this strengthens in my mind 
the joyous confidence that they must have been originally 
neither separate disconnected capricious nor sporadic phe- 
nomena, but have sprung from a common rocL from a 


fundamental "fiat" of knowledge, whose empire reached 
to the soul's depth, and that ever grew more definite in 
its voice, and more definite in its demands. That is the 
only state of affairs that is proper in the case of a philoso- 

We have no right to be "disconnected"; we must 
neither err "disconnectedly" nor strike the truth "dis- 
connectedly." Rather with the necessity with which a 
tree bears its fruit, so do our thoughts, our values, our 
Yes's and No's and If's and Whether's, grow connected 
and interrelated, mutual witnesses of one will, one health, 
one kingdom, one sun — as to whether they are to your 
taste, these fruits of ours? — But what matters that to the 
trees? What matters that to us, us the philosophers? 

Owing to a scrupulosity peculiar to myself, which I con- 
fess reluctantly, — it concerns indeed morality, — a scrupu- 
losity, which manifests itself in my life at such an early 
period, with so much spontaneity, with so chronic a per- 
sistence and so keen an opposition to environment, epoch, 
precedent, and ancestry that I should have been almost 
entitled to style it my "a priori"— my curiosity and my 
suspicion felt themselves betimes bound to halt at the 
question, of what in point of actual fact was the origin 
of our "Good" and of our "Evil." Indeed, at the boyish 
age of thirteen the problem of the origin of Evil already 
haunted me: at an age "when games and God divide one's 
heart," I devoted to that problem my first childish at- 
tempt at the literary game, my first philosophic essay— 


and as regards my infantile solution of the problem, well, 
I gave quite properly the honour to God, and made him 
the father of evil. Did my own "a priori" demand that 
precise solution from me? that new, immoral, or at least 
amoral" "d priori" and that "categorical imperative" 
which was its voice (but, oh! how hostile to the Kan- 
tian article, and how pregnant with problems!), to which 
since then I have given more and more attention, and 
indeed what is more than attention. Fortunately I soon 
learned to separate theological from moral prejudices, and 
I gave up looking for a supernatural origin of evil. A 
certain amount of historical and philological education, to 
say nothing of an innate faculty of psychological discrim- 
ination par excellence succeeded in transforming almost 
immediately my original problem into the following one: 
— Under what conditions did Man invent for himself those 
judgments of values, "Good" and "Evil"? And 'what in- 
trinsic value do they possess in themselves? Have they 
up to the present hindered or advanced human well-being? 
Are they a symptom of the distress, impoverishment, and 
degeneration of Human Life? Or, conversely, is it in 
them that is manifested the fulness, the strength, and the 
will of Life, its courage, its self-confidence, its future? 
On this point I found and hazarded in my mind the most 
diverse answers, I established distinctions in periods, peo- 
ples, and castes, I became a specialist in my problem, and 
from my answers grew new questions, new investigations, 
new conjectures, new probabilities; until at last I had a 
land of my own and a soil of my own, a whole secret 
world growing and flowering, like hidden gardens of 
whose existence no one could have an inkling — oh, how 


happy are we, we finders of knowledge, provided that we 
know how to keep silent sufficiently long. 

My first impulse to publish some of my hypotheses con- 
cerning the origin of morality I owe to a clear, well-writ- 
ten, and even precocious little book, in which a perverse 
and vicious kind of moral philosophy (your real English 
kind) was definitely presented to me for the first time; and 
this attracted me— with that magnetic attraction, inherent 
in that which is diametrically opposed and antithetical to 
one's own ideas. The title of the book was The Origin 
of the Moral Emotions; its author, Dr. Paul Ree; the 
year of its appearance, 1877. I may almost say that I 
have never read anything in which every single dogma 
and conclusion has called forth from me so emphatic a 
negation as did that book; albeit a negation untainted by 
either pique or intolerance. I referred accordingly both' 
in season and out of season in the previous works, at 
which I was then working, to the arguments of that book, 
not to refute them — for what have I got to do with mere 
refutations — but substituting, as is natural to a positive 
mind, for an improbable theory one which is more prob- 
able, and occasionally no doubt for one philosophic error 
another. In that early period I gave, as I have said, the 
first public expression to those theories of origin to which 
these essays are devoted, but with a clumsiness which I 
was the last to conceal from myself, for I was as yet 
cramped, being still without a special language for these 
special subjects, still frequently liable to relapse and to 


vacillation. To go into details, compare what T say in 
Human, all-too-Human, part i., about the parallel early 
history of Good and Evil, Aph. 45 (namely, their origin 
from the castes of the aristocrats and the slaves) ; simi- 
larly, Aph. 136 et seq., concerning the birth and value of 
ascetic morality; similarly, Aphs. 96, 99, vol. ii., Aph. 
89, concerning the Morality of Custom, that far older and 
more original kind of morality which is toto ado different 
from the altruistic ethics (in which Dr. Ree, like all the 
English moral philosophers, sees the ethical l Thing-in- 
itself"); finally, Aph. 92. Similarly, Aph. 26 in Human, 
all-too-Human, part ii., and Aph. 112, the Dawn oj Day, 
concerning the origin of Justice as a balance between per- 
sons of approximately equal power (equilibrium as the 
hypothesis of all contract, consequently of all law) ; simi- 
larly, concerning the origin of Punishment, Human, all- 
too-Human, part ii., Aphs. 22, 23, in regard to which the 
deterrent object is neither essential nor original (as Dr. 
Ree thinks:— rather is it that this object is only imported, 
under certain definite conditions, and always as something 
extra and additional). 


In reality I had set my heart at that time on some- 
thing much more important than the nature of the theories 
of myself or others concerning the origin of morality (or, 
more precisely, the real function from my view of these 
theories was to point an end to which they were one 
among many means). The issue for me was the value 
of morality, and on that subject I had to place myself 



in a state of abstraction, in which I was almost alone 
with my great teacher Schopenhauer, to whom that book, 
with all its passion and inherent contradiction (for that 
book also was a polemic), turned for present help as 
though he were still alive. The issue was, strangely 
enough, the value of the "unegoistic" instincts, the in- 
stincts of pity, self-denial, and self-sacrifice which Schop- 
enhauer had so persistently painted in golden colours, 
deified and etherealised, that eventually they appeared to 
him, as it were, high and dry, as "intrinsic values in them- 
selves," on the strength of which he uttered both to Life 
and to himself his own negation. But against these very 
instincts there voiced itself in my soul a more and more 
fundamental mistrust, a scepticism that dug ever deeper 
and deeper: and in this very instinct I saw the great 
danger of mankind, its most sublime temptation and se- 
duction — seduction to what? to nothingness? — in these 
very instincts I saw the beginning of the end, stability, the 
exhaustion that gazes backwards, the will turning against 
Life, the last illness announcing itself with its own mincing 
melancholy: I realised that the morality of pity which 
spread wider and wider, and whose grip infected even 
philosophers with its disease, was the most sinister symp- 
tom of our modern European civilisation; I realised that 
it was the route along which that civilisation slid on its 
way to — a new Buddhism? — a European Buddhism?— 
Nihilism? This exaggerated estimation in which modern 
philosophers have held pity, is quite a new phenomenon: 
up to that time philosophers were absolutely unanimous 
as to the worthlessness of pity. I need only mention 
Plato, Spinoza, La Rochefoucauld, and Kant— four minds 


as mutually different as is possible, but united on one 
point; their contempt of pity. 


This problem of the value of pity and of the pity- 
morality (I am an opponent of the modern infamous 
emasculation of our emotions) seems at the first blush a 
mere isolated problem, a note of interrogation for itself; 
he, however, who once halts at this problem, and learns 
how to put questions, will experience what I experienced: 
— a new and immense vista unfolds itself before him, a 
sense of potentiality seizes him like a vertigo, every species 
of doubt, mistrust, and fear springs up, the belief in 
morality, nay, in all morality, totters, — finally a new de- 
mand voices itself. Let us speak out this new demand: 
we need a critique of moral values, the value of these 
values is for the first time to be called into question — and 
for this purpose a knowledge is necessary of the condi- 
tions and circumstances out of which these values grew, 
and under which they experienced their evolution and 
their distortion (morality as a result, as a symptom, as a 
mask, as Tartuffism, as disease, as a misunderstanding; 
but also morality as a cause, as a remedy, as a stimulant, 
as a fetter, as a drug), especially as such a knowledge has 
neither existed up to the present time nor is even now gen- 
erally desired. The value of these "values" was taken for 
Lrunted as an indisputable fact, which was beyond all 
question. No one has, up to the present, exhibited the 
faintest doubt or hesitation in judging the "good man" 
to be of a higher value than the "evil man," of a higher 


value with regard specifically to human progress, utility, 
and prosperity generally, not forgetting the future. 
What? Suppose the converse were the truth! What? 
Suppose there lurked in the "good man" a symptom of 
retrogression, such as a danger, a temptation, a poison, a 
narcotic, by means of which the present battened on the 
future! More comfortable and less risky perhaps than 
its opposite, but also pettier, meaner! So that morality 
would really be saddled with the guilt, if the maximum 
potentiality of the power and splendour of the human 
species were never to be attained? So that really morality 
would be the danger of dangers? 

Enough, that after this vista had disclosed itself to me, 
I myself had reason to search for learned, bold, and in- 
dustrious colleagues (I am doing it even to this very day). 
It means traversing with new clamorous questions, and at 
the same time with new eyes, the immense, distant, and 
completely unexplored land of morality — of a morality 
which has actually existed and been actually lived ! and is 
this not practically equivalent to first discovering that 
land? If, in this context, I thought, amongst others, of the 
aforesaid Dr. Ree, I did so because I had no doubt that 
from the very nature of his questions he would be com- 
pelled to have recourse to a truer method, in order to ob- 
tain his answers. Have I deceived myself on that score? 
I wished at all events to give a better direction of vision 
to an eye of such keenness and such impartiality. I 
wished to direct him to the real history of morality, and 


to warn him, while there was yet time, against a world 
of English theories that culminated in the blue vacuum 
of heaven. Other colours, of course, rise immediately to 
one's mind as being a hundred times more potent than 
blue for a genealogy of morals: — for instance, grey, by 
which I mean authentic facts capable of definite proof and 
having actually existed, or, to put it shortly, the whole 
of that long hieroglyphic script (which is so hard to de- 
cipher) about the past history of human morals. This 
script was unknown to Dr. Ree; but he had read Dar- 
win: — and so in his philosophy the Darwinian beast and 
that pink of modernity, the demure weakling and dilet- 
tante, who "bites no longer," shake hands politely in a 
fashion that is at least instructive, the latter exhibiting 
a certain facial expression of refined and good-humoured 
indolence, tinged with a touch of pessimism and exhaus- 
tion; as if it really did not pay to take all these things — I 
mean moral problems — so seriously. I, on the other hand, 
think that there are no subjects which pay better for being 
taken seriously; part of this payment is, that perhaps 
eventually they admit of being taken gaily. This gaiety, 
indeed, or, to use my own language, this joyful wisdom, 
is a payment; a payment for a protracted, brave, labor- 
ious, and burrowing seriousness, which, it goes without 
ing. is the attribute of but a few. But on that day 
on which we say from the fullness of our hearts, "For- 
ward! our old morality too is fit material for Comedy,** 
we shall have discovered a new plot, and a new possibility 
for the Dionysian drama entitled The Soul's Fate — and 
he will speedily utilise it, one can wager safely, he, the 
great ancient eternal dramatist of the comedy of our 



If this writing be obscure to any individual, and jar 
on his ears, I do not think that it is necessarily I who 
am to blame. It is clear enough, on the hypothesis which 
I presuppose, namely, that the reader has first read my 
previous writings and has not grudged them a certain 
amount of trouble: it is not, indeed, a simple matter to 
get really at their essence. Take, for instance, my Zara- 
thustra; I allow no one to pass muster as knowing that 
book, unless every single word therein has at some time 
wrought in him a profound wound, and at some time 
exercised on him a profound enchantment: then and not 
till then can he enjoy the privilege of participating rev- 
erently in the halcyon element, from which that work is 
born, in its sunny brilliance, its distance, its spaciousness, 
its certainty In other cases the aphoristic form produces 
difficulty, but this is only because this form is treated too 
casually. An aphorism properly coined and cast into its 
final mould is far from being "deciphered" as soon as it 
has been read; on the contrary, it is then that it first 
requires to be expounded — of course for that purpose an 
art of exposition is necessary. The third essay in this 
book provides an example of what is offered, of what in 
such cases I call exposition: an aphorism is prefixed to 
that essay, the essay itself is its commentary. Certainly 
one quality which nowadays has been best forgotten— 
and that is why it will take some time yet for my writings 
to become readable — is essential in order to practise read- 
ing as an art — a quality for the exercise of which it is 


necessary to be a cow, and under no circumstances a 
modern man! — rumination. 
Sils-Maria, Upper Engadine, 
July, 1887. 



Those English psychologists, who up to the present are 
the only philosophers who are to be thanked for any 
endeavour to get as far as a history of the origin of 
morality — these men, I say, offer us in their own person- 
alities no paltry problem; — they even have, if I am to 
be quite frank about it, in their capacity of living riddles, 
an advantage over their books — they themselves are 
interesting! These English psychologists — what do they 
really mean? We always find them voluntarily or in- 
voluntarily at the same task of pushing to the front the 
partie honteuse of our inner world, and looking for the 
efficient, governing, and decisive principle in that precise 
quarter where the intellectual self-respect of the race 
would be the most reluctant to find it (for example, in 
the vis inertice of habit, or in forgetfulness, or in a blind 
and fortuitous mechanism and association of ideas, or in 
some factor that is purely passive, reflex, molecular, or 
fundamentally stupid) — what is the real motive power 
which always impels these psychologists in precisely this 
direction? Is it an instinct for human disparagement 
somewhat sinister, vulgar, and malignant, or perhaps in- 



comprehensible even to itself? or perhaps a touch of 
pessimistic jealousy, the mistrust of disillusioned idealists 

3 have become gloomy, poisoned, and bitter? or a petty 

subconscious enmity and rancour against Christianity 

(and Plato), that has conceivably never crossed the 

vshold of consciousness? or just a vicious taste for 

se elements of life which are bizarre, painfully para- 
doxical, mystical, and illogical? or, as a final alternative. 
a dash of each of these motives; — a little vulgarity, a little 
gloominess, a little anti-Christianity, a little craving for 
the necessary piquancy? 

But I am told that it is simply a case of old frigid and 
tedious frogs crawling and hopping around men and inside 
men, as if they were as thoroughly at home there, as they 
would be in a swamp. 

I am opposed to this statement, nay, I do not believe 
it: and if, in the impossibility of knowledge, one is per- 
mitted to wish, so do I wish from my heart that just the 
converse metaphor should apply, and that these analysts 
with their psychological microscopes should be, at bottom, 
brave, proud, and magnanimous animals who know how 
to bridle both their hearts and their smarts, and have 
rally trained themselves to sacrifice what is desirable 

what is true, any truth in fact, even the simple, bitter, 

v, repulsive, unchristian, and immoral truths — for 
there are truths of that description. 


All honour, then, to the noble spirits who would fain 
dominate these historians of morality. But it is certainly 


a pity that they lack the historical sense itself, that they 
themselves are quite deserted by all the beneficent spirits 
of history. The whole train of their thought runs, as was 
always the way of old-fashioned philosophers, on thor- 
oughly unhistorical lines: there is no doubt on this point. 
The crass ineptitude of their genealogy of morals is 
immediately apparent when the question arises of ascer- 
taining the origin of the idea and judgment of "good.*' 
'•'Man had originally,'' so speaks their decree, "praised 
and called 'good' altruistic acts from the standpoint of 
those on whom they were conferred, that is. those to 
whom they were useful; subsequently the origin of this 
praise was forgotten, and altruistic acts, simply because, 
as a sheer matter of habit, they were praised as good, 
came also to be felt as good — as though they contained in 
themselves some intrinsic goodness." The thing is obvi- 
ous: — this initial derivation contains already all the 
typical and idiosyncratic traits of the English psycholo- 
gists — we have "utility," "forgetting." "habit." and finally 
"error," the whole assemblage forming the basis of a sys- 
tem of values, on which the higher man has up to the 
present prided himself as though it were a kind of privi- 
lege of man in general. This pride must be brought low. 
this system of values must lose its values: is that attained? 
Xow the first argument that comes read}- to my hand 
is that the real homestead of the concept "good" is 
sought and located in the wrong place: the judgment 
"good" did riot originate among those to whom goodness 
was shown. Much rather has it been the good them- 
selves, that is, the aristocratic, the powerful, the high- 
lioned, the high-minded, who have felt that they them- 


selves were good, and that their actions were good, that* 
to say of the first order, in contradistinction to all the 
low, the low-minded, the vulgar, and the plebeian. It 
was out of this pathos of distance that they first arrogated 
the right to create values for their own profit, and to 
coin the names of such values: what had they to do with 
utility? The standpoint of utility is as alien and as 
inapplicable as it could possibly be, when we have to deal 
with so volcanic an effervescence of supreme values, creat- 
ing and demarcating as they do a hierarchy within them- 
selves: it is at this juncture that one arrives at an appre- 
ciation of the contrast to that tepid temperature, which 
is the presupposition on which every combination of 
worldly wisdom and every calculation of practical ex- 
pediency is always based — an 1 not for one occasional, 
not for one exceptional instance, but chronically. The 
pathos of nobility and distance, as I have said, the chronic 
and despotic esprit dc corps and fundamental instinct of a 
higher dominant race coming into association with a 
meaner race, an "under race," this is the origin of the 
antithesis of good and bad. 

(The masters' right of giving names goes so far that 
it is permissible to look upon language itself as the ex- 
pression of the power of the masters: they say "this is 
that, and that," they seal finally every object and every 
event with a sound, and thereby at the same time take 
possession of it.) It is because of this origin that the 
word "good" is far from having any necessary connection 
with altruistic acts, in accordance with the superstitious 
belief of these moral philosophers. On the contrary, it is 
on the occasion of the decay of aristocratic values, that 


the antitheses between "egoistic" and "altruistic" presses 
more and more heavily on the human conscience— it is, to 
use my own language, the herd instinct which finds in 
this antithesis an expression in many ways. And even 
then it takes a considerable time for this instinct to be- 
come sufficiently dominant, for the valuation to be inex- 
tricably dependent on this antithesis (as is the case in 
contemporary Europe); for to-day the prejudice is pre- 
dominant, which, acting even now with all the intensity of 
an obsession and brain disease, holds that "moral," 
"altruistic," and "desinteresse" are concepts of equal 

In the second place, quite apart from the fact that this 
hypothesis as to the genesis of the value "good" cannot 
be historically upheld, it suffers from an inherent psycho- 
logical contradiction. The utility of altruistic conduct has 
presumably been the origin of its being praised, and this 
origin has become forgotten: — But in what conceivable 
way is this forgetting possible? Has perchance the utility 
of such conduct ceased at some given moment? The 
contrary is the case. This utility has rather been experi- 
enced every day at all times, and is consequently a feature 
that obtains a new and regular emphasis with every fresh 
day; it follows that, so far from vanishing from the 
consciousness, so far indeed from being forgotten, it must 
necessarily become impressed on the consciousness with 
ever-increasing distinctness. How much more logical is 
that contrary theory (it is not the truer for that) which 


is represented, for instance, by Herbert Spencer, who 
places the concept "good" as essentially similar to the 
concept "useful," "purposive," so that in the judgments 
"good" and "bad" mankind is simply summarising and 
investing with a sanction its unforgotten and unforget- 
table experiences concerning the "useful-purposive" and 
the "mischievous-non-purposive." According to this 
theory, "good" is the attribute of that which has previ- 
ously shown itself useful; and so is able to claim to be 
considered "valuable in the highest degree," "valuable 
in itself." This method of explanation is also, as I have 
said, wrong, but at any rate the explanation itself is co- 
herent, and psychologically tenable. 


The guide-post which first put me on the right track 
was this question — what is the true etymological signifi- 
cance of the various symbols for the idea "good" which 
have been coined in the various languages? I then found 
that they all led back to the same evolution of the same 
idea — that everywhere "aristocrat," "noble" (in the social 
sense), is the root idea, out of which have necessarily 
developed "good" in the sense of "with aristocratic soul." 
"noble," in the sense of "with a soul of high calibre." 
"with a privileged soul" — a development which invariably 
runs parallel with that other evolution by which "vulvar." 
"plebeian," "low," are made to change finally into "bad." 
The most eloquent proof of this last contention is the 
German word "schlccht" itself: this word is identical with 
"schlicht" — (compare "schlcchtivcg" and "schlcchtcr- 


dings")— which, originally and as yet without any sinister 
innuendo, simply denoted the plebeian man in contrast to 
the aristocratic man. It is at the sufficiently late period 
of the Thirty Years' War that this sense becomes changed 
to the sense now current. From the standpoint of the 
Genealogy of Morals this discovery seems to be substan- 
tial: the lateness of it is to be attributed to the retarding 
influence exercised in the modern world by democratic 
prejudice in the sphere of all questions of origin. This 
extends, as will shortly be shown, even to the province of 
natural science and physiology, which prima jacie is the 
most objective. The extent of the mischief which is 
caused by this prejudice (once it is free of all trammels 
except those of its own malice), particularly to Ethics 
and History, is shown by the notorious case of Buckle: 
it was in Buckle that that plebeianism of the modern 
spirit, which is of English origin, broke out once again 
from its malignant soil with all the violence of a slimy 
volcano, and with that salted, rampant, and vulgar elo- 
quence with which up to the present time all volcanoes 
have spoken. 

With regard to our problem, which can justly be called 
an intimate problem, and which elects to appeal to only 
a limited number of ears: it is of no small interest to 
ascertain that in those words and roots which denote 
"good" we catch glimpses of that arch-trait, on the 
strength of which the aristocrats feel themselves to be 
beings of a higher order than their fellows. Indeed, they 


call themselves in perhaps the most frequent instances 
simply after their superiority in power (e.g. "the power- 
ful," "the lords," "the commanders"), or after the most 
obvious sign of their superiority, as for example "the 
rich," "the possessors" (that is the meaning of arya; and 
the Iranian and Slav languages correspond). But they 
also call themselves after some characteristic idiosyncrasy ; 
and this is the case which now concerns us. They name 
themselves, for instance, "the truthful": this is first done 
by the Greek nobility whose mouthpiece is found in 
Theognis, the Megarian poet. The word ecrOXo;, which 
is coined for the purpose, signifies etymologically "one 
who is" who has reality, who is real, who is true; and 
then with a subjective twist, the "true," as the "truthful": 
at this stage in the evolution of the idea, it becomes the 
motto and party cry of the nobility, and quite completes 
the transition to the meaning "noble," so as to place out- 
side the pale the lying, vulgar man, as Theognis conceives 
and portrays him — till finally the word after the decay of 
the nobility is left to delineate psychological noblesse, 
and becomes as it were ripe and mellow. In the word 
y.axcx; as in Sei16<; (the plebeian in contrast to the 
dyuOog) the cowardice is emphasised. This affords per- 
haps an inkling on what lines the etymological origin of 
the very ambiguous dyaddg is to be investigated. In 
the Latin mains (which I place side by side with \vih 
the vulgar man can be distinguished as the dark-coloured, 
and above all as the black-haired ("Iiic niger est"), as 
the pre-Aryan inhabitants of the Italian soil, whose com- 
plexion formed the clearest feature of distinction from 
the dominant blondes, namely, the Aryan conquering 


race: — at any rate Gaelic has afforded me the exact ana- 
logue — Fin (for instance, in the name Fin-Gal), the dis- 
tinctive word of the nobility, finally — good, noble, clean, 
but originally the blonde-haired man in contrast to the 
dark black-haired aboriginals. The Celts, if I may make 
a parenthetic statement, were throughout a blonde race; 
and it is wrong to connect, as Virchow still connects, 
those traces of an essentially dark-haired population which 
are to be seen on the more elaborate ethnographical maps 
of Germany with any Celtic ancestry or with any ad- 
mixture of Celtic blood: in this context it is rather the 
pre- Aryan population of Germany which surges up to 
these districts. (The same is true substantially of the 
whole of Europe: in point of fact, the subject race has 
finally again obtained the upper hand, in complexion and 
the shortness of the skull, and perhaps in the intellectual 
and social qualities. Who can guarantee that modern 
democracy, still more modern anarchy, and indeed that 
tendency to the "Commune," the most primitive form of 
society, which is now common to all the Socialists in 
Europe, does not in its real essence signify a monstrous 
reversion — and that the conquering and master race — the 
Aryan race, is not also becoming inferior physiologically?) 
I believe that I can explain the Latin bonus as the "war- 
rior": my hypothesis is that I am right in deriving bonus 
from an older duonus (compare beUum-duellum 
= duen-lum, in which the word duonus appears to me to 
be contained). Bonus accordingly as the man of discord, 
of variance, "entzweiung" (duo), as the warrior: one sees 
what in ancient Rome "the good" meant for a man. Must 
not our actual German word gut mean "the godlike, the 


man of godlike race"? and be identical with the national 
name (originally the nobles' name) of the Goths? 

The grounds for this supposition do not appertain to 
this work. 


Above all, there is no exception (though there are op- 
portunities for exceptions) to this rule, that the idea of 
political superiority always resolves itself into the idea of 
psychological superiority, in those cases where the highest 
caste is at the same time the priestly caste, and in accord- 
ance with its general characteristics confers on itself the 
privilege of a title which alludes specifically to its priestly 
function. It is in these cases, for instances, that "dean" 
and "unclean" confront each other for the first time as 
badges of class distinction; here again there develops a 
"good" and a "bad," in a sense which has ceased to be 
merely social. Moreover, care should be taken not to 
take these ideas of "clean" and "unclean" too seriously, 
too broadly, or too symbolically: all the ideas of ancient 
man have, on the contrary, got to be understood in their 
initial stages, in a sense which is, to an almost incon- 
ceivable extent, crude, coarse, physical, and narrow, and 
above all essentially unsymbolical. The "clean man" is 
originally only a man who washes himself, who abstains 
from certain foods which are conducive to skin diseases, 
who does not sleep with the unclean women of the lower 
classes, who has a horror of blood — not more, not much 
more! On the other hand, the very nature of a priestly 
aristocracy shows the reasons why just at such an early 


juncture there should ensue a really dangerous sharpen- 
ing and intensification of opposed values: it is, in fact, 
through these opposed values that gulfs are cleft in the 
social plane, which a veritable Achilles of free thought 
would shudder to cross. There is from the outset a cer- 
tain diseased taint in such sacerdotal aristocracies, and 
in the habits which prevail in such societies — habits which, 
averse as they are to action, constitute a compound of 
introspection and explosive emotionalism, as a result of 
which there appears that introspective morbidity and* 
neurasthenia, which adheres almost inevitably to all priests 
at all times: with regard, however, to the remedy which 
they themselves have invented for this disease — the phil- 
osopher has no option but to state, that it has proved 
itself in its effects a hundred times more dangerous than 
the disease, from which it should have been the deliverer. 
iHumanity itself is still diseased from the effects of the 
naivetes of this priestly cure. Take, for instance, certain 
kinds of diet (abstention from flesh), fasts, sexual con- 
tinence, flight into the wilderness (a kind of Weir-Mitchell 
isolation, though of course without that system of ex- 
cessive feeding and fattening which is the most efficient 
antidote to all the hysteria of the ascetic ideal) ; con- 
sider too the whole metaphysic of the priests, with its war 
on the senses, its enervation, its hair-splitting; consider its 
self-hypnotism on the fakir and Brahman principles (it 
uses Brahman as a glass disc and obsession), and that 
climax which we can understand only too well of an 
unusual satiety with its panacea of nothingness (or God: 
— the demand for a unio mystica with God is the demand 
of the Buddhist for nothingness. Nirvana — and nothing 


else ! ) . In sacerdotal societies every element is on a more 
dangerous scale, not merely cures and remedies, but also 
pride, revenge, cunning, exaltation, love, ambition, virtue, 
morbidity: — further, it can fairly be stated that it is on 
the soil of this essentially dangerous form of human 
society, the sacerdotal form, that man really becomes for 
the first time an interesting animal, that it is in this form 
that the soul of man has in a higher sense attained depths 
and become evil — and those are the two fundamental 
forms of the superiority which up to the present maz has 
exhibited over every other animal. 

The reader will have already surmised with what «iase 
the priestly mode of valuation can branch off from the 
knightly aristocratic mode, and then develop into the 
very antithesis of the latter: special impetus is given to 
this opposition, by every occasion when the castes of the 
priests and warriors confront each other with mutual jeal- 
ousy and cannot agree over the prize. The knightly- 
aristocratic "values" are based on a careful cult of the 
physical, on a flowering, rich, and even effervescing 
healthiness, that goes considerably beyond what is neces- 
sary for maintaining life, on war, adventure, the chase, 
the dance, the tourney — on everything, in fact, which is 
contained in strong, free, and joyous action. The priestly- 
aristocratic mode of valuation is — we have seen — based 
on other hypotheses: it is bad enough for this class when 
it is a question of war! Yet the priests are, as is notori- 
ous, the worst enemies — why? Because they are the 


weakest. Their weakness causes their hate to expand into 
a monstrous and sinister shape, a shape which is most 
crafty and most poisonous. The really great haters in the 
history of the world have always been priests, who are 
also the cleverest haters — in comparison with the clever- 
ness of priestly revenge, every other piece of cleverness 
is practically negligible. Human history would be too 
fatuous for anything were it not for the cleverness im- 
ported into it by the weak — take at once the most impor- 
tant instance. All the world's efforts against the "aristo- 
crats," the "mighty," the "masters," the "holders of 
power," are negligible by comparison with what has been 
accomplished against those classes by the Jews — the 
Jews, that priestly nation which eventually realised that 
the one method of effecting satisfaction on its enemies and 
tyrants was by means of a radical transvaluation of 
values, which was at the same time an act of the cleverest 
revenge. Yet the method was only appropriate to a 
nation of priests, to a nation of the most jealously nursed 
priestly revengefulness. It was the Jews who, in opposi- 
tion to the aristocratic equation (good = aristocratic = 
beautiful = happy = loved by the gods), dared with a 
terrifying logic to suggest the contrary equation, and 
indeed to maintain with the teeth of the most profound 
hatred (the hatred of weakness) this contrary equation, 
namely, "the wretched are alone the good; the poor, the 
weak, the lowly, are alone the good; the suffering, the 
needy, the sick, the loathsome, are the only ones who are 
pious, the only ones who are blessed, for them alone is 
salvation — but you, on the other hand, you aristocrats, 
you men of power, you are to all eternity the evil, the 


horrible, the covetous, the insatiate, the godless; eter- 
nally also shall you be the unblessed, the cursed, the 
damned!" We know who it was who reaped the heritage 
of this Jewish transvaluation. In the context of the 
monstrous and inordinately fateful initiative which the 
Jews have exhibited in connection with this most funda- 
mental of all declarations of war, I remember the passage 
which came to my pen on another occasion (Beyond 
Good and Evil, Aph. 195) — that it was, in fact, with the 
Jews that the revolt of the slaves begins in the sphere oj 
morals; that revolt which has behind it a history of two 
millennia, and which at the present day has only moved 
out of our sight, because it — has achieved victory. 


But you understand this not? You have no eyes for 
a force which has taken two thousand years to achieve 
victory? — There is nothing wonderful in this: all lengthy 
processes are hard to see and to realise. But this is what 
took place: from the trunk of that tree of revenge and 
hate, Jewish hate, — that most profound and sublime hate, 
which creates ideals and changes old values to new crea- 
tions, the like of which has never been on earth, — there 
grew a phenomenon which was equally incomparable, a 
new love, the most profound and sublime of all kinds of 
] ove; — and from what other trunk could it have grown? 
But beware of supposing that this love has soared on its 
upward growth, as in any way a real negation of that 
thirst for revenge, as an antithesis to the Jewish hate! 
No, the contrary is the truth! This love grew out of 


that hate, as its crown, as its triumphant crown, circling 
wider and wider amid the clarity and fulness of the sun, 
and pursuing in the very kingdom of light and height 
its goal of hatred, its victory, its spoil, its strategy, with 
the same intensity with which the roots of that tree of 
hate sank into everything which was deep and evil with 
increasing stability and increasing desire. This Jesus of 
Nazareth, the incarnate gospel of love, this "Redeemer" 
bringing salvation and victory to the poor, the sick, the 
sinful— was he not really temptation in its most sinister 
and irresistible form, temptation to take the tortuous 
path to those very Jewish values and those very Jewish 
ideals? Has not Israel really obtained the final goal of 
its sublime revenge, by the tortuous paths of this "Re- 
deemer," for all that he might pose as Israel's adversary 
and Israel's destroyer? Is it not due to the black magic 
of a really great policy of revenge, of a far-seeing, bur- 
rowing revenge, both acting and calculating with slow- 
ness, that Israel himself must repudiate before all the 
world the actual instrument of his own revenge and nail 
it to the cross, so that all the world — that is, all the ene- 
mies of Israel — could nibble without suspicion at this 
very bait? Could, moreover, any human mind with all 
its elaborate ingenuity invent a bait that was more truly 
dangerous? Anything that was even equivalent in the 
power of its seductive, intoxicating, defiling, and corrupt- 
ing influence to that symbol of the holy cross, to that 
awful paradox of a "god on the cross," to that mystery of 
the unthinkable, supreme, and utter horror of the self- 
crucifixion of a god for the salvation of matt? It is at 
least certain that mb hoc signo Israel, with its revenge 


and transvaluation of all values, has up to the present 
always triumphed again over all other ideals, over all 
more aristocratic ideals. 

"But why do you talk of nobler ideals? Let us submit 
to the facts; that the people have triumphed — or the 
slaves, or the populace, or the herd, or whatever name 
you care to give them — if this has happened through 
the Jews, so be it! In that case no nation ever had a 
greater mission in the world's history. The 'masters' 
have been done away with; the morality of the vulgar 
man has triumphed. This triumph may also be called a 
blood-poisoning (it has mutually fused the races) — I do 
not dispute it; but there is no doubt but that this 
intoxication has succeeded. The 'redemption' of the 
human race (that is, from the masters) is progressing; 
swimmingly; everything is obviously becoming Judaised, 
or Christianised, or vulgarised (what is there in the 
words?). It seems impossible to stop the course of this 
poisoning through the whole body politic of mankind — 
but its tempo and pace may from the present time be 
slower, more delicate, quieter, more discreet — there is 
time enough. In view of this context has the Church 
nowadays any necessary purpose? Has it, in fact, a right 
to live? Or could man get on without it? Quocritur. 
It seems that it fetters and retards this tendency, instead 
of accelerating it. Well, even that might be its utility. 
The Church certainly is a crude and boorish institution, 
that is repugnant to an intelligence with any pretence at 


delicacy, to a really modern taste. Should it not at any 
rate learn to be somewhat more subtle? It alienates 
nowadays, more than it allures. Which of us would, for- 
sooth, be a freethinker if there were no Church? It is 
the Church which repels us, not its poison — apart from 
the Church we like the poison." This is the epilogue 
of a freethinker to my discourse, of an honourable animal 
(as he has given abundant proof), and a democrat to 
boot; he had up to that time listened to me, and could 
not endure my silence, but for me, indeed, with regard 
to this topic there is much on which to be silent. 


The revolt of the slaves in morals begins in the very 
principle of resentment becoming creative and giving 
birth to values — a resentment experienced by creatures 
who, deprived as they are of the proper outlet of action, 
are forced to find their compensation in an imaginary 
revenge. While every aristocratic morality springs from 
a triumphant affirmation of its own demands, the slave 
morality says "no" from the very outset to what is "out- 
side itself," "different from itself," and "not itself: and 
this "no" is its creative deed. This volte-face of the 
valuing standpoint — this inevitable gravitation to the ob- 
jective instead of back to the subjective — is typical of 
resentment": the slave-morality requires as the condi- 
tion of its existence an external and objective world, to 
employ physiological terminology, it requires objective 
stimuli to be capable of action at all — its action is fun- 
damentally a reaction. The contrary is the case when 



we come to the aristocrat's system of values: it acts and 
grows spontaneously, it merely seeks its antithesis in 
order to pronounce a more grateful and exultant "yes" 
to its own self; — its negative conception, "low," "vulgar." 
"bad," is merely a pale late-born foil in comparison with 
its positive and fundamental conception (saturated as it is 
with life and passion), of "we aristocrats, we good ones, 
we beautiful ones, we happy ones." 

When the aristocratic morality goes astray and com- 
mits sacrilege on reality, this is limited to that particular 1 
sphere with which it is not sufficiently acquainted — a 
sphere, in fact, from the real knowledge of which it 
disdainfully defends itself. It misjudges, in some cases, 
the sphere which it despises, the sphere of the common 
vulgar man and the low people: on the other hand, due 
weight should be given to the consideration that in any 
case the mood of contempt, of disdain, of supercilious- 
ness, even on the supposition that it falsely portrays the 
object of its contempt, will always be far removed from 
mat degree of falsity which will always characterise the 
attacks — in effigy, of course — of the vindictive hatred and 
revengeful ness of the weak in onslaughts on their ene- 
mies. In point of fact, there is in contempt too strong 
an admixture of nonchalance, of casualness, of boredom, 
of impatience, even of personal exultation, for it to be 
capable of distorting its victim into a real caricature or 
a real monstrosity. Attention again should be paid to 
the almost benevolent mtances which, for instance, the 
Greek nobility imports into all the words by which it 
distinguishes the common people from itself; note how 
continuously a kind of pity, care, and consideration im- 


parts its honeyed flavour, until at last almost all the 
words which are applied to the vulgar man survive finally 
as expressions for "unhappy," "worthy of pity" (corn- 
Dare 8£iA6g, ositaxiog, jrovriQog, uoxfrr]Q°S '» the latter two 
names really denoting the vulgar man as labour-slave and 
beast of burden) — and how, conversely, "bad," "low," 
"unhappy" have never ceased to ring in the Greek ear 
with a tone in which "unhappy" is the predominant note: 
this is a heritage of the old noble aristocratic morality, 
which remains true to itself even in contempt (let philolo- 
gists remember the sense in which oTguooc;, <xvo?.6o;, 
tWjuiov, bvoxv%£iv, ^vucpoQa used to be employed. The 
"well-born" simply felt themselves the "happy"; they 
did not have to manufacture their happiness artificially 
through looking at their enemies, or in cases to talk and 
lie themselves into happiness (as is the custom with all 
resentful men) ; and similarly, complete men as they were, 
exuberant with strength, and consequently necessarily 
energetic, they were too wise to dissociate happiness 
from action — activity becomes in their minds necessarily 
counted as happiness (that is the etymology of sv 
jiodrretv)— all in sharp contrast to the "happiness" of 
the weak and the oppressed, with their festering venom 
and malignity, among whom happiness appears essen- 
tially as a narcotic, a deadening, a quietude, a peace, a 
"Sabbath," an enervation of the mind and relaxation of 
the limbs, — in short, a purely passive phenomenon. While 
the aristocratic man lived in confidence and openness 
with himself (yewaio?, "noble-born," emphasises the 
nuance "sincere," and perhaps also "naif"), the resentful 
man, on the other hand, is neither sincere nor naif, nor 


honest and candid with himself. His soul squints; his 
mind loves hidden crannies, tortuous paths and back- 
doors, everything secret appeals to him as his world, his 
safety, his balm; he is past master in silence, in not for- 
getting, in waiting, in provisional self-depreciation and 
self-abasement. A race of such resentful men will of 
necessity eventually prove more prudent than any aris- 
tocratic race, it will honour prudence on quite a distinct 
scale, as, in fact, a paramount condition of existence, 
while prudence among aristocratic men is apt to be tinged 
with a delicate flavour of luxury and refinement; so 
among them it plays nothing like so integral a part as 
that complete certainty of function of the governing un- 
conscious instincts, or as indeed a certain lack of pru- 
dence, such as a vehement and valiant charge, whether 
against danger or the enemy, or as those ecstatic bursts 
of rage, love, reverence, gratitude, by which at all times 
noble souls have recognised each other. When the re- 
sentment of the aristocratic man manifests itself, it fulfils 
and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction, and conse- 
quently instills no venom: on the other hand, it never 
manifests itself at all in countless instances, when in the 
case of the feeble and weak it would be inevitable. An 
inability to take seriously for any length of time their 
enemies, their disasters, their misdeeds— that is the sign 
of the full strong natures who possess a superfluity of 
moulding plastic force, that heals completely and pro- 
duces forgetfulness: a good example of this in the modern 
world is Mirabeau, who had no memory for any insults 
and meannesses which were practised on him, and who 
was only incapable of forgiving because he forgot. Such 


a man indeed shakes off with a shrug many a worm 
which would have buried itself in another; it is only in 
characters like these that we see the possibility (suppos- 
ing, of course, that there is such a possibility in the 
world) of the real "love of one's enemies." What re- 
spect for his enemies is found, forsooth, in an aristocratic 
man- — and such a reverence is already a bridge to love! 
He insists on having his enemy to himself as his distinc- 
tion. He tolerates no other enemy but a man in whose 
character there is nothing to despise and much to honour! 
On the other hand, imagine the "enemy" as the resentful 
man conceives him — and it is here exactly that we see 
his work, his creativeness; he has conceived "the evil 
enemy," the "evil one," and indeed that is the root idea 
from which he now evolves as a contrasting and cor- 
responding figure a "good one," himself — his very self! 


The method of this man is quite contrary to that of the 
aristocratic man, who conceives the root idea "good" 
spontaneously and straight away, that is to say, out of ' 
himself, and from that material then creates for himself 
a concept of "bad"! This "bad" of aristocratic origin 
and that "evil" out of the cauldron of unsatisfied hatred 
— the former an imitation, an "extra," an additional 
nuance; the latter, on the other hand, the original, the 
beginning, the essential act in the conception of a slave- 
morality — these two words "bad" and "evil," how great 
a difference- do they mark, in spite of the fact that they 
have an identical contrary in the idea "good." But the 


idea "good" is not the same: much rather let the question 
be asked, "Who is really evil according to the meaning 
of the morality of resentment?" In all sternness let it 
be answered thus: — just the good man of the other 
morality, just the aristocrat, the powerful one, the one 
who rules, but who is distorted by the venomous eye of 
resentfulnese, into a new colour, a new signification, a 
new appearance. This particular point we would be the 
last to deny: the man who learnt to know those "good" 
ones only as enemies, learnt at the same time not to 
know them only as "evil enemies," and the same men 
who inter pares were kept so rigorously in bounds through 
convention, respect, custom, and gratitude, though much 
more through mutual vigilance and jealousy inter pares, 
these men who in their relations with each other find so 
many new ways of manifesting consideration, self-control, 
delicacy, loyalty, pride, and friendship, these men are in 
reference to what is outside their circle (where the foreign 
element, a foreign country, begins) , not much better than 
beasts of prey, which have been let loose. They enjoy 
there freedom from all social control, they feel that in 
the wilderness they can give vent with impunity to that 
tension which is produced by enclosure and imprison- 
ment in the peace of society, they revert to the innocence 
of the beast-of-prey conscience, like jubilant monsters, 
who perhaps come from a ghostly bout of murder, arson, 
rape, and torture, with bravado and a moral equanimity, 
as though merely some wild student's prank had been 
played, perfectly convinced that the poets have now an 
ample theme to sing and celebrate. It is impossible not 
to recognise at the core of all these aristocratic races the 


beast of prey; the magnificent blonde bride, avidly ram- 
pant for spoil and victory; this hidden core needed an 
outlet from time to time, the beast must get loose again, 
must return into the wilderness — the Roman, Arabic, 
German, and Japanese nobility, the Homeric heroes, the 
Scandinavian Vikings, are all alike in this need. It is the 
aristocratic races who have left the idea "Barbarian" on 
all the tracks in which they have marched; nay, a con- 
sciousness of this very barbarianism, and even a pride in 
it, manifests itself even in their highest civilisation (for 
example, when Pericles says to his Athenians in that cele- 
brated funeral oration, "Our audacity has forced a way 
over every land and sea, rearing everywhere imperishable 
memorials of itself for good and for evil"). This audac- 
ity of aristocratic races, mad, absurd, and spasmodic as 
may be its expression; the incalculable and fantastic 
nature of their enterprises, — Pericles sets in special relief 
and glory the Qcrfruuia of the Athenians, their non- 
chalance and contempt for safety, body, life, and com- 
fort, their awful joy and intense delight in all destruction, 
in all the ecstasies of victory and cruelty, — all these fea- 
tures become crystallised, for those who suffered thereby 
in the picture of the "barbarian," of the "evil enemy," 
perhaps of the "Goth" and of the "Vandal." The pro- 
found, icy mistrust which the German provokes, as soon 
as he arrives at power, — even at the present time, — is 
always still an aftermath of that inextinguishable horror 
with which for whole centuries Europe has regarded the 
wrath of the blonde Teuton beast (although between the 
old Germans and ourselves there exists scarcely a psycho- 
logical, let alone a physical, relationship). I have once 


called attention to the embarrassment of Hesiod, when 
he conceived the series of social ages, and endeavoured 
to express them in gold, silver, and bronze. He could 
only dispose of the contradiction, with which he was 
confronted, by the Homeric world, an age magnificent in- 
deed, but at the same time so awful and so violent, by 
making two ages out of one, which he henceforth placed 
one behind the other — first, the age of the heroes and 
demigods, as that world had remained in the memories 
of the aristocratic families, who found therein their own 
ancestors; secondly, the bronze age, as that correspond- 
ing age appeared to the descendants of the oppressed, 
spoiled, ill-treated, exiled, enslaved; namely, as an age 
of bronze, as I have said, hard, cold, terrible, without 
feelings and without conscience, crushing everything, and 
bespattering everything with blood. Granted the truth 
of the theory now believed to be true, that the very 
essence of all civilisation is to train out of man, the beast 
of prey, a tame and civilised animal, a domesticated 
animal, it follows indubitably that we must regard as the 
real tools of civilisation all those instincts of reaction and 
resentment, by the help of which the aristocratic races, 
together with their ideals, were finally degraded and 
overpowered; though that has not yet come to be syn- 
onymous with saying that the bearers of those tools also 
represented the civilisation. It is rather the contrary that 
is not only probable— nay, it is palpable to-day: these 
bearers of vindictive instincts that have to be bottled up, 
these descendants of all European and non-European 
slavery, especially of the pre- Aryan population— the 
people, I say, represent the decline of humanity! These 


"tools of civilisation" are a disgrace to humanity, and 
constitute in reality more of an argument against civili- 
sation, more of a reason why civilisation should be sus- 
pected. One may be perfectly justified in being always 
afraid of the blonde beast that lies at the core of all 
aristocratic races, and in being on one's guard: but who 
would not a hundred times prefer to be afraid, when one 
at the same time admires, than to be immune from fear, 
at the cost of being perpetually obsessed with the loath- 
some spectacle of the distorted, the dwarfed, the stunted, 
the envenomed? And is that not our fate? What pro- 
duces to-day our repulsion towards "man"? — for we suffer 
from "man," there is no doubt about it. It is not fear; 
it is rather that we have nothing more to fear from men ; 
it is that the worm "man" is in the foreground and 
pullulates; it is that the "tame man," the wretched 
mediocre and unedifying creature, has learnt to consider 
himself a goal and a pinnacle, an inner meaning, an his- 
toric principle, a "higher man"; yes, it is that he has a 
certain right so to consider himself, in so far as he feels 
that in contrast to that excess of deformity, disease, ex- 
haustion, and effeteness whose odour is beginning to pol- 
lute present-day Europe, he at any rate has achieved a 
relative success, he at any rate still says "yes" to life. 


I cannot refrain at this juncture from uttering a sigh 
and one last hope. What is it precisely which I find 
intolerable? That which I alone cannot get rid of, 
which makes me choke and faint? Bad air! Bad air! 


That something misbegotten comes near me; that I must 
inhale the odour of the entrails of a misbegotten soul! — ■ 
That excepted, what can one not endure in the way of 
need, privation, bad weather, sickness, toil, solitude? In 
point of fact, one manages to get over everything, born 
as one is to a burrowing and battling existence; one 
always returns once again to the light, one always lives 
again one's golden hour of victory — and then one stands 
as one was born, unbreakable, tense, ready for some- 
thing more difficult, for something more distant, like a 
bow stretched but the tauter by every strain, ftut from 
time to time do ye grant me — assuming that "beyond 
good and evil" there are goddesses who can grant — one 
glimpse, grant me but one glimpse only, of something 
perfect, fully realised, happy, mighty, triumphant, of 
something that still gives cause for fear! A glimpse of 
a man that justifies the existence of man, a glimpse of 
an incarnate human happiness that realises and redeems, 
for the sake of which one may hold fast to the belie] in 
man! For the position is this: in the dwarfing and level- 
ling of the European man lurks our greatest peril, for 
it is this outlook which fatigues — we see to-day nothing 
which wishes to be greater, we surmise that the process 
is always still backwards, still backwards towards some- 
thing more attentuated, more inoffensive, more cunning, 
more comfortable, more mediocre, more indifferent, more 
Chinese, more Christian — man, there is no doubt about it, 
grows always "better" — the destiny of Europe lies even 
in this — that in losing the fear of man, we have also lost 
the hope in man, yea, the will to be man. The «iuht of 
man now fatigues. — What is present-day Nihilism if it is 
n.)t that? — We are tired of man. 



But let us come back to it; the problem of another 
origin of the good — of the good, as the resentful man 
has thought it out — demands its solution. It is not sur- 
prising that the lambs should bear a grudge against the 
great birds of prey, but that is no reason for blaming 
the great birds of prey for taking the little lambs. And 
when the lambs say among themselves, "Those birds of 
prey are evil, and he who is as far removed from being 
a bird of prey, who is rather its opposite, a lamb, — is 
he not good?" then there is nothing to cavil at in the 
setting up of this ideal, though it may also be that the 
birds of prey will regard it a little sneeringly, and per- 
chance say to themselves, "We bear no grudge against 
them, these good lambs, we even like them: nothing is 
tastier than a tender lamb." To require of strength that 
it should not express itself as strength, that it should not 
be a wish to overpower, a wish to overthrow, a wish to 
become master, a thirst for enemies and antagonisms and 
triumphs, is just as absurd as to require of weakness 
that it should express itself as strength. A quantum of 
force is just such a quantum of movement, will, action — 
rather it is nothing else than just those very phenomena 
of moving, willing, acting, and can only appear other- 
wise in the misleading errors of language (and the funda- 
mental fallacies of reason which have become petrified 
therein), which understands, and understands wrongly, 
all working as conditioned by a worker, by a "subject." 
And just exactly as the people separate the lightning from 


its flash, and interpret the latter as a thing done, as the 
working of a subject which is called lightning, so also 
does the popular morality separate strength from the 
expression of strength, as though behind the strong man 
there existed some indifferent neutral substratum, which 
enjoyed a caprice and option as to whether or not it 
should express strength. But there is no such substratum, 
there is no "being" behind doing, working, becoming; 
"the doer" is a mere appanage to the action. The action 
is everything. In point of fact, the people duplicate the 
doing, when they make the lightning lighten, that is a 
"doing-doing"; they make the same phenomenon first a 
cause, and then, secondly, the effect of that cause. The 
scientists fail to improve matters when they say, "Force 
moves, force causes," and so on. Our whole science is 
still, in spite of all its coldness, of all its freedom from 
passion, a dupe of the tricks of language, and has never 
succeeded in getting rid of that superstitious changeling 
"the subject" (the atom, to give another instance, is 
such a changeling, just as the Kantian "Thing-in-itself"). 
■\Yhat wonder, if the suppressed and stealthily simmer- 
ing passions of revenge and hatred i xploit for their own 
advantage their belief, and indeed hold no belief with | 
more steadfast enthusiasm than this — "that the strong 
has the option of being weak, and the bird of prey of 
being a lamb." Thereby do they win for themselves the 
ht of attributing to the birds of prey the responsibility 
for being birds of prey: when the oppressed, down- 
trodden, and overpowered say to themselves with 1 
\ indictive guile of weakness. "Let us be otherwise th. 
evil, namely, good! and good is every one who d< 


not oppress, who hurts no one, who does not attack, who 
does not pay back, who hands over revenge to God, who 
holds himself, as we do, in hiding; who goes out of the 
way of evil, and demands, in short, little from life; like 
ourselves the patient, the meek, the just," — yet all this, 
in its cold and unprejudiced interpretation, means noth- 
ing more than "once for all, the weak are weak; it is 
good to do nothing for which we are not strong enough"; 
but this dismal state of affairs, this prudence of the lowest 
order, which even insects possess (which in a great danger 
are fain to sham death so as to avoid doing "too much"), 
has, thanks to the counterfeiting and self-deception of 
weakness, come to masquerade in the pomp of an ascetic, 
mute, and expectant virtue, just as though the very weak- 
ness of the weak — that is, forsooth, its being, its working, 
its whole unique inevitable inseparable reality — were a 
voluntary result, something wished, chosen, a deed, an act 
of merit. This kind of man finds the belief in a neutral, 
free-choosing "subject" necessary from an instinct of self- 
preservation, of self-assertion, in which every lie is fain 
to sanctify itself. The subject (or, to use popular lan- 
guage, the soul) has perhaps proved itself the best dogma 
in the world simply because it rendered possible to th 
horde of mortal, weak, and oppressed individuals of 
every kind, that most sublime specimen of self-deception, 
the interpretation of weakness as freedom, of being this, 
or being that, as merit. 


Will any one look a little into — right into — the mystery 


of how ideals are ma?iujactured in this world? Who has 
the courage to do it? Come! 

Here we have a vista opened into these grimy work- 
shops. Wait just a moment, dear Mr. Inquisitive and 
Foolhardy; your eye must first grow accustomed to this 
false changing light — Yes! Enough! Xow speak! 
What is happening below down yonder? Speak out! Tell 
what you see, man of the most dangerous curiosity — for 
now / am the listener. 

"I see nothing, I hear the more. It is a cautious, 
spiteful, gentle whispering and muttering together in all 
the corners and crannies. It seems to me that they are 
lying; a sugary softness adheres to every sound. Weak- 
ness is turned to merit, there is no doubt about it — it is 
just as ycu say." 

Further ! 

"And the impotence which requites not, is turned to 
'goodness,' craven baseness to meekness, submission to 
those whom one hates, to obedience (namely, obedience 
to one of whom they say that he ordered this submis- 
sion — they call him God). The inoffensive character of 
the weak, the very cowardice in which he is rich, his 
standing at the door, his forced necessity of waiting, 
gain here fine names, such as 'patience,' which is also 
called 'virtue 1 ; not being able to avenge one's self, is 
called not wishing to avenge one's self, perhaps even 
forgiveness (for they know not what they do — we alone 
know what they do). They also talk of the 'love of their 
enemies' and sweat thereby." 


"They are miserable, there is no doubt about it, all 


these whisperers and counterfeiters in the corners, al- 
though they try to get warm by crouching close to each 
other, but they tell me that their misery is a favour and 
distinction given to them by God, just as one beats the 
dogs one likes best; that perhaps this misery is also a 
preparation, a probation, a training; that perhaps it is 
still more something which will one day be compensated 
and paid back with a tremendous interest in gold, nay in 
happiness. This they call 'Blessedness.' " 

Further ! 

"They are now giving me to understand, that not 
only aie they better men than the mighty, the lords 
of the earth, whose spittle they have got to lick {not 
out of fear, not at all out of fear! But because God 
ordains that one should honour all authority) — not only 
are they better men, but that they also have a 'better 
time,' at any rate, will one day have a 'better time.' 
But enough! Enough! I can endure it no longer. Bad 
air! Bad air! These workshops where ideals are manu- 
factured — verily they reek with the crassest lies." 

Nay. Just one minute! You are saying nothing about 
the masterpieces of these virtuosos of black magic, who 
can produce whiteness, milk, and innocence out of any 
black you like: have you not noticed what a pitch of 
refinement is attained by their chef d'ceuvre, their most 
audacious, subtle, ingenious, and lying artist-trick? Take 
care! These cellar-beasts, full of revenge and hate — 
what do they make, forsooth, out of their revenge and 
hate? Do you hear these words? Would you suspect, 
if you trusted only their words, that you are among men 
of resentment and nothing else? 



''I understand, I prick my ears up again (ah! ah! ah! 
and I hold my nose). Now do I hear for the first time 
that which they have said so often: 'We good, we are 
the righteous' — what they demand they call not revenge 
but f the triumph of righteousness' ; what they hate is not 
their enemy, no, they hate 'unrighteousness,' 'godless- 
ness'; what they believe in and hope is not the hope of 
revenge, the intoxication of sweet revenge ( — "sweeter 
than honey," did Homer call it?), but the victory of 
God, of the righteous God over the 'godless'; what is 
left for them to love in this world is not their brothers in 
hate, but their 'brothers in love,' as they say, all the good 
and righteous on the earth." 

And how do they name that which serves them as a 
solace against all the troubles of life — their phantasma- 
goria of their anticipated future blessedness? 

"How? Do I hear right? They call it 'the last judg- 
ment,' the advent of their kingdom, 'the kingdom of God' 
— but in the meanwhile they live 'in faith,' 'in love,' 'in 
hope.' " 

Enough ! Enough ! 


In the faith in what? In the love for what? In the 
hope of what? These weaklings! — they also, forsooth, 
wish to be strong some time; there is no doubt about it. 
some time their kingdom also must come — "the kingdom 
of God" is their name for it, as has been mentioned: — 
they are so meek in everything! Yet in order to ex- 
perience that kingdom it is necessary to live long, to live 


beyond death, — yes, eternal life is necessary so that one 
can make up for ever for that earthly life "in faith," "in 
love," "in hope." Make up for what? Make up by 
what? Dante, as it seems to me, made a crass mistake 
when with awe-inspiring ingenuity he placed that inscrip- 
tion over the gate of his hell, "Me too made eternal 
love": at any rate the following inscription would have a 
much better right to stand over the gate of the Christian 
Paradise and its "eternal blessedness" — "Me too made 
eternal hate" — granted of course that a truth may rightly 
stand over the gate to a lie! For what is the blessed- 
ness of that Paradise? Possibly we could quickly sur- 
mise it; but it is better that it should be explicitly 
attested by an authority who in such matters is not to 
be disparaged, Thomas of Aquinas, the great teacher and 
saint. "Beati in regno celesti," says he, as gently as a 
lamb, "videbunt pcenas damnatorum, ut beatitudo Mis 
magis complaceat." Or if we wish to hear a stronger 
tone, a word from the mouth of a triumphant father of 
the Church, who warned his disciples against the cruel 
ecstasies of the public spectacles — But why? Faith offers 
us much more, — says he, de Spectac, c. 29 ss., — some- 
thing much stronger; thanks to the redemption, joys of 
quite another kind stand at our disposal; instead of 
athletes we have our martyrs; we wish for blood, well, 
we have the blood of Christ — but what then awaits us on 
the day of his return, of his triumph? And then does he 
proceed, does this enraptured visionary: "at enim super- 
sunt alia spectacula, Me ultimas et perpetuus judicii dies, 
Me nationibus insperatus, Me derisus, cum tanta sceculi 
vetustas et tot ejus nativitates uno igne haurientur. Quce 


tunc spectaculi latitudo! Quid admirer! quid ridcam! 
Ubi gaudeam! Ubi exultem, spectans tot ct tantos reges, 
qui in caelum recepti nuntiabantur, cum ipso Jove el 
ipsis suis testibus in imis tenebris congemesccntes! Item 
presides" (the provisional governors) "persecutores dom- 
inici notninis sevvioribus quam ipsi flammis sccvierunt in- 
sultantibus contra CJtristianos liquescentcs! Quos prccterea 
sapientes illos philosop/ios coram discipulis suis una con- 
flagrantibus erubescentes, quibus nihil ad deum pcrtih 
suadebant, quibus animas aut nullas aut non in pristina 
corpora redituras affirmabant! Etiam poet as non ad 
Rhadamanti nee ad Minois, sed ad inopinati Christi 
tribunal palpitantes! Tunc magis tragecdi audiendi, 
magis scilicet vocales" (with louder tones and more vio- 
lent shrieks) "in sua propria calamitate; tunc liistriones 
cognoscendi, solutiorcs multo per ignem; tunc spectandus 
auriga in flammea rota totus rubens, tunc xystici contem- 
pl-andi non in gymnasiis, sed in igiie jacidati, nisi quod nc 
tunc quidem illos velim vivos, ut qui malim ad eos potius 
conspectum insatiabilem conjerre, qui in dominum 
scevierunt. Hie est illes, dicam fabri aut qiKCstuario films" 
(as is shown by the whole of the following, and in par- 
ticular by this well-known description of the mother of 
Jesus from the Talmud, Tertullian is henceforth refer- 
ring to the Jews), "sabbati destructor, Samarites et 
decmoniurn habeus. Hie est quern a Juda redemises, hie 
est ille arundine et colaphis diverberatus, sputatnentis de 
decoratus, jelle ct aceto potatus. Hie est, quern clanu 
discentes subripiuruni, ut resurradsse dicatur vel hortu- 
lanus detraxit, ne lactuccc sua- jrcqucntia commcantiitr,: 
Iccdtrcntur. Ut talia spectes, ut talibus cxultcs, quis / 


prcetor aut consul aut sacerdos de sua liber alii ate 
prcestabit? Et tamen hcec jam habemus quodammodo 
per fidem spiritu imaginante reprcesentata. Ceterum 
qualia ilia sunt, quce nee oculus vidit nee auris audivit 
nee in cor hominis ascenderunt?" (I Cor. ii. 9.) "Credo 
circo et utraque cavea" (first and fourth row, or, accord- 
ing to others, the comic and the tragic stage) "et omni 
studio gratiora." Per fidem: so stands it written. 


Let us come to a conclusion. The two opposing values, 
"good and bad," "good and evil," have fought a dread- 
ful, thousand-year fight in the world, and though indubit- 
ably the second value has been for a long time in the 
preponderance, there are not wanting places where the 
fortune of the fight is still undecisive. It can almost be 
said that in the meanwhile the fight reaches a higher 
and higher level, and that in the meanwhile it has be- 
come more and more intense, and always more and more 
psychological; so that nowadays there is perhaps no more 
decisive mark of the higher nature, of the more psycho- 
logical nature, than to be in that sense self-contradictory, 
and to be actually still a battleground for those two 
opposites. The symbol of this fight, written in a writing 
which has remained worthy of perusal throughout the 
course of history up to the present time, is called "Rome 
against Judaea, Judaea against Rome." Hitherto there has 
been no greater event than that fight, the putting of that 
question, that deadly antagonism. Rome found in the 
Jew the incarnation of the unnatural, as though it were 


its diametrically opposed monstrosity, and in Rome the 
Jew was held to be convicted oj hatred of the whole 
human race: and rightly so, in so far as it is right to link 
the well-being and the future of the human race to the 
unconditional mastery of the aristocratic values, of the 
Roman values. What, conversely, did the Jews feel 
against Rome? One can surmise it from a thousand 
symptoms, but it is sufficient to carry one's mind back, to 
the Johannian Apocalypse, that most obscene of all the 
written outbursts, which has revenge on its conscience. 
(One should also appraise at its full value the profound 
logic of the Christian instinct, when over this very book 
of hate it wrote the name of the Disciple of Love, that 
self-same disciple to whom it attributed that impassioned 
and ecstatic Gospel — therein lurks a portion of truth, 
however much literary forging may have been necessary 
for this purpose.) The Romans were the strong and 
aristocratic; a nation stronger and more aristocratic has 
never existed in the world, has never even been dreamed 
of; every relic of them, every inscription enraptures, 
granted that one can divine what it is that writes the 
inscription. The Jews, conversely, were that priestly 
nation of resentment par excellence, possessed by a unique 
genius for popular morals: just compare with the Jews 
the nations with analogous gifts, such as the Chinese or 
the Germans, so as to realise afterwards what is first rate, 
and what is fifth rate. 

Which of them has been provisionally victorious. Rome 
or Judaea? but there is not a shadow of doubt; just con- 
sider to whom in Rome itself nowadays you bow down, 
as though before the quintessence of all the highest values 


— and not only in Rome, but almost over half the world, 
everywhere where man has been tamed or is about to be 
tamed — to three Jews, as we know, and one Jewess (to 
Jesus of Nazareth, to Peter the fisher, to Paul the tent- 
maker, and to the mother of the aforesaid Jesus, named 
Mary). This is very remarkable: Rome is undoubtedly 
defeated. At any rate there took place in the Renaissance 
a brilliantly sinister revival of the classical ideal, of the 
aristocratic valuation of all things: Rome herself, like a 
man waking up from a trance, stirred beneath the bur- 
Hen of the new Judaised Rome that had been built over 
her, which presented the appearance of an oecumenical 
synagogue and was called the "Church": but immediately 
Judaea triumphed again, thanks to that fundamentally 
popular (German and English) movement of revenge, 
which is called the Reformation, and taking also into 
account its inevitable corollary, the restoration of the 
Church — the restoration also of the ancient graveyard 
peace of classical Rome. Judsea proved yet once more 
victorious over the classical ideal in the French Revo- 
lution, and in a sense which was even more crucial and 
even more profound: the last political aristocracy that 
existed in Europe, that of the French seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, broke into pieces beneath the in- 
stincts of a resentful populace — never had the world heard 
a greater jubilation, a more uproarious enthusiasm: 
indeed, there took place in the midst of it the most mon- 
strous and unexpected phenomenon; the ancient ideal 
itself swept before the eyes and conscience of humanity 
with all its life and with unheard-of splendour, and in 
opposition to resentment's lying war-cry of the preroga- 


the of the most, in opposition to the will to lowliness, 
abasement, and equalisation, the will to a retrogression 
and twilight of humanity, there rang out once again, 
stronger, simpler, more penetrating than ever, the ter- 
rible and enchanting counter-war-cry of the prerogative of 
the few! Like a final sign-post to other ways, there 
appeared Napoleon, the most unique and violent anach- 
ronism that ever existed, and in him the incarnate problem 
of the aristocratic ideal in itself — consider well what a 
problem it is: — Napoleon, that synthesis of Monster and 


Was it therewith over? Was that greatest of all an- 
titheses of ideals thereby relegated ad acta for all time? 
Or only postponed, postponed for a long time? May 
there not take place at some time or other a much more 
awful, much more carefully prepared flaring up of the 
old conflagration? Further! Should not one wish that 
consummation with all one's strength? — will it one's self? 
demand it one's self? He who at this juncture begins, 
like my readers, to reflect, to think further, will have 
difficulty in coming quickly to a conclusion, — ground 
enough for me to come myself to a conclusion, taking it 
for granted that for some time past what I mean has been 
sufficiently clear, what I exactly mean by that dangerous 
motto which is inscribed on the body of my last book: 
Beyond Good and Evil — at any rate that is not the same 
as "Beyond Good and Bad." 


Note. — I avail myself of the opportunity offered by this 
treatise to express, openly and formally, a wish which up to 
the present has only been expressed in occasional conversa- 
tions with scholars, namely, that some Faculty of philosophy 
should, by means of a series of prize essays, gain the glory 
of having promoted the further study of the history of mor- 
als — perhaps this book may serve to give a forcible impetus 
in such a direction. With regard to a possibility of this char- 
acter, the following question deserves consideration. It mer- 
its quite as much the attention of philologists and historians 
as of actual professional philosophers. 

"What indication of the history of the evolution of the moral 
ideas is afforded by philology, and especially by etymological 
investigation ?" 

On the other hand, it is, of course, equally necessary to 
induce physiologists and doctors to be interested in these 
problems (of the value of the valuations which have prevailed 
up to the present) : in this connection the professional philo- 
sophers may be trusted to act as the spokesmen and inter- 
mediaries in these particular instances, after, of course, they 
have quite succeeded in transforming the relationship between 
philosophy and physiology and medicine, which is originally 
one of coldness and suspicion, into the most friendly and fruit- 
ful reciprocity. In point of fact, all tables of values, all the 
"thou shalts" known to history and ethnology, need primarily 
a physiological, at any rate in preference to a psychological, 
elucidation and interpretation : all equally require a critique 
from medical science. The question, "What is the value 
of this or that table of 'values' and morality?" will be asked 
from the most varied standpoints. For instance, the question 
of "valuable for what" can never be analysed with sufficient 
nicety. That, for instance, which would evidently have value 
with regard to promoting in a race the greatest possible powers 
of endurance (or with regard to increasing its adaptability 
to a specific climate, or with regard to the preservation of the 
greatest number) would have nothing like the same value, if 
it were a question of evolving a stronger species. In gauging 
values, the good of the majority and the good of the minority 
are opposed standpoints : we leave it to the naivete of English 
biologists to regard the former standpoint as intrinsically 
superior. All the sciences have now to pave the way for the 
future task of the philosopher ; this task being understood to 
mean, that he must solve the problem of value, that he has to 
fix the hierarchy of values. 




The breeding of an animal that can promise — is not 
this just that very paradox of a task which nature has 
set itself in regard to man? Is not this the very problem 
of man? The fact that this problem has been to a great 
extent solved, must appear all the more phenomenal to 
one who can estimate at its full value that force of 
jorgetfulness which works in opposition to it. Forgetful- 
ness is no mere vis inertia:, as the superficial believe, 
rather is it a power of obstruction, active and, in the 
strictest sense of the word, positive — a power responsible 
for the fact that what we have lived, experienced, taken 
into ourselves, no more enters into consciousness during 
the process of digestion (it might be called psychic ab- 
sorption) than all the whole manifold process by which 
our physical nutrition, the so-called "incorporation," is 
carried on. The temporary shutting of the doors and 
windows of consciousness, the relief from the clamant 
alarums and excursions, with which our subconscious 
world of servant organs works in mutual co-operation and 
antagonism; a little quietude, a little tabula rasa of the 



consciousness, so as to make room again for the new, and 
above all for the more noble functions and functionaries, 
room for government, foresight, predetermination (for 
our organism is on an oligarchic model) — this is the util- 
ity, as I have said, of the active forgetfulness, which 
is a very sentinel and nurse of psychic order, repose, 
etiquette; and this shows at once why it is that there can 
exist no happiness, no gladness, no hope, no pride, no 
real present, without forgetfulness. The man in whom 
this preventative apparatus is damaged and discarded, is 
to be compared to a dyspeptic, and it is something more 
than a comparison — he can "get rid of" nothing. But 
this very animal who finds it necessary to be forgetful, 
in whom, in fact, forgetfulness represents a force and a 
form of robust health, has reared for himself an opposi- 
tion-power, a memory, with whose help forgetfulness is, 
in certain instances, kept in check — in the cases, namely, 
where promises have to be made; — so that it is by no 
means a mere passive inability to get rid of a once in- 
dented impression, not merely the indigestion occasioned 
by a once pledged word, which one cannot dispose of, but 
an active refusal to get rid of it, a continuing and a wish 
to continue what has once been willed, an actual memory 
of the will; so that between the original "I will," "I shall 
do," and the actual discharge of the will, its act, we can 
easily interpose a world of new strange phenomena, cir- 
cumstances, veritable volitions, without the snapping of 
this long chain of the will. But what is the underlying 
hypothesis of all this? How thoroughly, in order to be 
able to regulate the future in this way, must man have 
first learnt to distinguish between necessitated and acci- 


dental phenomena, to think casually, to see the distant 
as present and to anticipate it, to fix with certainty what 
is the end, and what is the means to that end; above 
all, to reckon, to have power to calculate — how thor- 
oughly must man have first become calculable, disciplined, 
necessitated even for himself and his own conception of 
himself, that, like a man entering a promise, he could 
guarantee himself as a future. 


This is simply the long history of the origin of respon- 
sibility. That task of breeding an animal which can 
make promises, includes, as we have already grasped, as 
its condition and preliminary, the more immediate task 
of first making man to a certain extent, necessitated, 
uniform, like among his like, regular, and consequently 
calculable. The immense work of what I have called, 
"morality of custom"* (cp. Dawn oj Day, Aphs. 9, 14, 
and 16), the actual work of man on himself during the 
longest period of the human race, his whole prehistoric 
work, finds its meaning, its great justification (in spite of 
all its innate hardness, despotism, stupidity, and idiocy) 
in this fact: man, with the help of the morality of cus- 
toms and of social strait-waistcoats, was made genuinely 
calculable. If, however, we place ourselves at the end of 
this colossal process, at the point where the tree finally 
matures its fruits, when society and its morality of custom 
finally bring to light that to which it was only the means, 
then do we find as the ripest fruit on its tree the sovereign 

* The German is : "Sittlichkeit der Sitte." H. B. S. 


individual, that resembles only himself, that has got loose 
from the morality of custom, the autonomous "super- 
moral" individual (for "autonomous" and "moral" are 
mutually exclusive terms), — in short, the man of the per- 
sonal, long, and independent will, competent to promise, 
— and we find in him a proud consciousness (vibrating 
in every fibre), of what has been at last achieved and 
become vivified in him, a genuine consciousness of power 
and freedom, a feeling of human perfection in general. 
And this man who has grown to freedom, who is really 
competent to promise, this lord of the jree will, this sov- 
ereign — how is it possible for him not to know how great 
is his superiority over everything incapable of binding 
itself by promises, or of being its own security, how great 
is the trust, the awe, the reverence that he awakes — he 
"deserves" all three — not to know that with this mastery 
over himself he is necessarily also given the mastery over 
circumstances, over nature, over all creatures with shorter 
wills, less reliable characters? The "free" man, the owner 
of a long unbreakable will, finds in this possession his 
standard of value: looking out from himself upon the 
others, he honours or he despises, and just as necessarily 
as he honours his peers, the strong and the reliable (those 
who can bind themselves by promises), — that is, every 
one who promises like a sovereign, with difficulty, rarely 
and slowly, who is sparing with his trusts but confers 
honour by the very fact of trusting, who gives his word 
as something that can be relied on, because he knows 
himself strong enough to keep it even in the teeth of 
disasters, even in the "teeth of fate," — so with equal 
necessity will he have the heel of his foot ready for the 


lean and empty jackasses, who promise when they have 
no business to do so, and his rod of chastisement ready 
for the liar, who already breaks his word at the very 
minute when it is on his lips. The proud knowledge of 
the extraordinary privilege of responsibility, the con- 
sciousness of this rare freedom, of this power over him- 
self and over fate, has sunk right down to his innermost 
depths, and has become an instinct, a dominating instinct 
— what name will he give to it, to this dominating instinct, 
if he needs to have a word for it? But there is no doubt 
about it — the sovereign man calls it his conscience. 

His conscience? — One apprehends at once that the idea 
"conscience," which is here seen in its supreme mani- 
festation, supreme in fact to almost the point of strange- 
ness, should already have behind it a long history and 
evolution. The ability to guarantee one's self with all 
due pride, and also at the same time to say yes to one's 
self — that is, as has been said, a ripe fruit, but also a late 
fruit: — How long must needs this fruit hang sour and 
bitter on the tree! And for an even longer period there 
was not a glimpse of such a fruit to be had — no one had 
taken it on himself to promise it, although everything 
on the tree was quite ready for it, and everything was 
maturing for that very consummation. ''How is a mem- 
ory to be made for the man-animal? How is an im- 
pression to be so deeply fixed upon this ephemeral under- 
standing, half dense, and half silly, upon this incarnate 
forgetfulness, that it will be permanently present?'' As 


one may imagine, this primeval problem was not solved 
by exactly gentle answers and gentle means; perhaps 
there is nothing more awful and more sinister in the early 
history of man than his system of mnemonics. "Some- 
thing is burnt in so as to remain in his memory: only that 
which never stops hurting remains in his memory." This 
is an axiom of the oldest (unfortunately also the longest) 
psychology in the world. It might even be said that 
wherever solemnity, seriousness, mystery, and gloomy 
colours are now found in the life of the men and of nations 
of the world, there is some survival of that horror which 
was once the universal concomitant of all promises, 
pledges, and obligations. The past, the past with all its 
length, depth, and hardness, wafts to us its breath, and 
bubbles up in us again, when we become "serious." 
When man thinks it necessary to make for himself a 
memory, he never accomplishes it without blood, tortures 
and sacrifice; the most dreadful sacrifices and forfeitures 
(among them the sacrifice of the first-born), the most 
loathsome mutilation (for instance, castration), the most 
cruel rituals of all the religious cults (for all religions 
are really at bottpm systems of cruelty) — all these things 
originate from that instinct which found in pain its most 
potent mnemonic. In a certain sense the whole of asceti- 
cism is to be ascribed to this: certain ideas have got to 
be made inextinguishable, omnipresent, "fixed," with the 
object of hypnotising the whole nervous and intellectual 
system through these "fixed ideas" — and the ascetic 
methods and modes of life are the means of freeing those 
ideas from the competition of all other ideas so as to 
make them "unforgettable." The worse memory man 


had, the ghastlier the signs presented by his customs; 
the severity of the penal laws affords in particular a 
gauge of the extent of man's difficulty in conquering 
forgetfulness, and in keeping a few primal postulates of 
social intercourse ever present to the minds of those who 
were the slaves of every momentary emotion and every 
momentary desire. We Germans do certainly not regard 
ourselves as an especially cruel and hard-hearted nation, 
still less as an especially casual and happy-go-lucky one; 
but one has only to look at our old penal ordinances in 
order to realise what a lot of trouble it takes in the world 
to evolve a ''nation of thinkers" (I mean: the European 
nation which exhibits at this very day the maximum of 
reliability, seriousness, bad taste, and positiveness, which 
has on the strength of these qualities a right to train 
every kind of European mandarin). These Germans em- 
ployed terrible means to make for themselves a memory. 
to enable them to master their rooted plebeian instincts 
and the brutal crudity of those instincts: think of the old 
German punishments, for instance, stoning (as far back 
as the legend, the millstone falls on the head of the guilty 
man), breaking on the wheel (the most original inven- 
tion and speciality of the German genius in the sphere 
of punishment), dart-throwing, tearing, or trampling by 
horses ("'quartering"), boiling the criminal in oil or wine 
(still prevalent in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries >. 
the highly popular flaying (''slicing into strips"), cutting 
the flesh out of the breast; think also of the evil-doer 
being besmeared with honey, and then exposed to the 
flies in a blazing sun. It was by the help of such images 
and precedents that man eventually kept in his memory 


five or six "I will nots" with regard to which he had 
already given his promise, so as to be able to enjoy the 
advantages of society — and verily with the help of this 
kind of memory man eventually attained "reason"! 
Alas! reason, seriousness, mastery over the emotions, all 
these gloomy, dismal things which are called reflection, 
all these privileges and pageantries of humanity: how 
dear is the price that they have exacted! How much 
blood and cruelty is the foundation of all "good things"! 

But how is it that that other melancholy object, the 
consciousness of sin, the whole "bad conscience," came 
into the world? And it is here that we turn back to our 
genealogists of morals. For the second time I say — or 
have I not said it yet? — that they are worth nothing. 
Just their own five-spans-long limited modern experience; 
no knowledge of the past, and no wish to know it; still 
less a historic instinct, a power of "second sight" (which 
is what is really required in this case) — and despite this 
to go in for the history of morals. It stands to reason 
that this must needs produce results which are removed 
from the truth by something more than a respectful dis- 

Have these current genealogists of morals ever allowed 
themselves to have even the vaguest notion, for instance, 
that the cardinal moral idea of "ought" * originates from 

* The German word "schuld" means both debt and guilt. 
Cp. the English "owe" and "ought," by which I occasionally 
render the double meaning. — H. B. S. 


the very material idea of "owe"? Or that punishment 
developed as a retaliation absolutely independently of any 
preliminary hypothesis of the freedom or determination of 
the will? — And this to such an extent, that a high degree 
of civilisation was always first necessary for the animal 
man to begin to make those much more primitive dis- 
tinctions of "intentional," "negligent," "accidental," "re- 
sponsible," and their contraries, and apply them in the 
assessing of punishment. That idea— "the wrong-doer 
deserves punishment because he might have acted other- 
wise," in spite of the fact that it is nowadays so cheap, 
obvious, natural, and inevitable, and that it has had to 
serve as an illustration of the way in which the senti- 
ment of justice appeared on earth, is in point of fact an 
exceedingly late, and even refined form of human judg- 
ment and inference; the placing of this idea back at the 
beginning of the world is simply a clumsy violation of 
the principles of primitive psychology. Throughout the* 
longest period of human history punishment was never 
based on the responsibility of the evil-doer for his action, 
and was consequently not based on the hypothesis that 
only the guilty should be punished; — on the contrary, 
punishment was inflicted in those days for the same reason 
that parents punish their children even nowadays, out of 
anger at an injury that they have suffered, an anger 
which vents itself mechanically on the author of the 
injury — but this anger is kept in bounds and modified 
through the idea that every injury has somewhere or other 
its equivalent price, and can really be paid off, even 
though it be by means of pain to the author. Whence 
is it that this ancient deep-rooted and now perhaps in- 


eradicable idea has drawn its strength, this idea of an 
equivalency between injury and pain? I have already 
revealed its origin, in the contractual relationship between 
creditor and ower, that is as old as the existence of legal 
rights at all, and in its turn points back to the primary 
forms of purchase, sale, barter, and trade. 

The realisation of these contractual relations excites, 
of course (as would be already expected from our previ- 
ous observations), a great deal of suspicion and opposi- 
tion towards the primitive society which made or sanc- 
tioned them. In this society promises will be made; in 
this society the object is to provide the promiser with a 
memory; in this society, so may we suspect, there will 
be full scope for hardness, cruelty, and pain: the "ower," 
in order to induce credit in his promise of repayment, in 
order to give a guarantee of the earnestness and sanctity 
of his promise, in order to drill into his own conscience 
the duty, the solemn duty, of repayment, will, by virtue 
of a contract with his creditor to meet the contingency of 
his not paying, pledge something that he still possesses, 
something that he still has in his power, for instance, his 
life or his wife, or his freedom or his body (or under 
certain religious conditions even his salvation, his soul's 
welfare, even his peace in the grave; so in Egypt, where 
the corpse of the ower found even in the grave no rest 
from the creditor — of course, from the Egyptian stand- 
point, this peace was a matter of particular importance) . 
But especially has the creditor the power of inflicting on 


the body of the ower all kinds of pain and torture — the 
power, for instance, of cutting off from it an amount that 
appeared proportionate to the greatness of the debt; — 
this point of view resulted in the universal prevalence at 
an early date of precise schemes of valuation, frequently 
horrible in the minuteness and meticulosity of their ap- 
plication, legally sanctioned schemes of valuation for 
individual limbs and parts of the body. I consider it as 
already a progress, as a proof of a freer, less petty, and 
more Roman conception of law, when the Roman Code of 
the Twelve Tables decreed that it was immaterial how 
much or how little the creditors in such a contingency 
cut off, "si plus minusve secuerunt, nc Jraudc esto." Let 
us make the logic of the whole of this equalisation process 
clear; it is strange enough. The equivalence consists in 
this: instead of an advantage directly compensatory of 
his injury (that is, instead of an equalisation in money, 
lands, or some kind of chattel), the creditor is granted 
by way of repayment and compensation a certain sensa- 
tion of satisfaction — the satisfaction of being able to vent, 
without any trouble, his power on one who is powerless, 
the delight "de faire le mal pour le plaisir de la fairc," 
the joy in sheer violence: and this joy will be relished in 
proportion to the lowness and humbleness of the creditor 
in the social scale, and is quite apt to have the effect of 
the most delicious dainty, and even seem the foretaste of a 
higher social position. Thanks to the punishment of the 
''ower," the creditor participates in the rights of the mas- 
ters. At last he too, for once in a way, attains the edify- 
ing consciousness of being able to despise and ill-treat 
a creature — as an "inferior" — or at any rate of seeing 


him being despised and ill-treated, in case the actual 
power of punishment, the administration of punishment, 
has already become transferred to the "authorities." The 
compensation consequently consists in a claim on cruelty 
and a right to draw thereon. 


It is then in this sphere of the law of contract that we 
find the cradle of the whole moral world of the ideas of 
"guilt," "conscience," "duty," the "sacredness of duty," 
— their commencement, like the commencement of all 
great things in the world, is thoroughly and continuously 
saturated with blood. And should we not add that this 
world has never really lost a certain savour of blood and 
torture (not even in old Kant: the categorical imperative 
reeks of cruelty). It was in this sphere likewise that 
there first became formed that sinister and perhaps now 
indissoluble association of the ideas of "guilt" and "suf- 
fering." To put the question yet again, why can suffer- 
ing be a compensation for "owing"? — Because the inflic- 
tion of suffering produces the highest degree of happi- 
ness, because the injured party will get in exchange for 
his loss (including his vexation at his loss) an extraordi- 
nary counter-pleasure: the infliction of suffering — a real 
feast, something that, as I have said, was all the more 
appreciated the greater the paradox created by the rank 
and social status of the creditor. These observations are 
purely conjectural; for, apart from the painful nature 
of the task, it is hard to plumb such profound depths: the 
clumsy introduction of the idea of "revenge" as a con- 


necting-link simply hides and obscures the view instead 
of rendering it clearer (revenge itself simply leads back 
again to the identical problem — "How can the infliction 
of suffering be a satisfaction?'). In my opinion it is 
repugnant to the delicacy, and still more to the hypocrisy 
of tame domestic animals (that is, modern men; that is, 
ourselves), to realise with all their energy the extent to 
which cruelty constituted the great joy and delight of 
ancient man, was an ingredient which seasoned nearly all 
his pleasures, and conversely the extent of the naivete 
and innocence with which he manifested his need for 
cruelty, when he actually made as a matter of principle 
"disinterested malice" (or, to use Spinoza's expression, 
the sym pat hia malevolcns) into a normal characteristic of 
man — as consequently something to which the conscience 
says a hearty yes. The more profound observer has per- 
haps already had sufficient opportunity for noticing this 
most ancient and radical joy and delight of mankind; in 
Beyond Good and Evil, Aph. 188 (and even earlier, in 
The Dawn oj Day, Aphs. 18, 77, 113), I have cautiously 
indicated the continually growing spiritualisation and 
"deification" of cruelty, which pervades the whole history 
of the higher civilisation (and in the larger sense even 
constitutes it). At any rate the time is not so long past 
when it was impossible to conceive of royal weddings and 
national festivals on a grand scale, without executions, 
tortures, or perhaps an auto-da-jc, or similarly to conceive 
of an aristocratic household, without a creature to serve 
a butt for the cruel and malicious baiting of the in- 
mates. (The reader will perhaps remember Don Quixote 
at the court of the Duchess: we read nowadavs the whole 


of Don Quixote with a bitter taste in the mouth, almost 
with a sensation of torture, a fact which would appear 
very strange and very incomprehensible to the author and 
his contemporaries — they read it with the best conscience 
in the world as the gayest of books; they almost died with 
laughing at it.) The sight of suffering does one good, 
the infliction of suffering does one more good — this is a 
hard maxim, but none the less a fundamental maxim, old, 
powerful, and "human, all-too-human"; one, moreover, to 
which perhaps even the apes as well would subscribe: 
for it is said that in inventing bizarre cruelties they are 
giving abundant proof of their future humanity, to which, 
as it were, they are playing the prelude. Without cruelty, 
no feast: so teaches the oldest and longest history of 
man — and in punishment too is there so much of the 

Entertaining, as I do, these thoughts, I am, let me say 
in parenthesis, fundamentally opposed to helping our pes- 
simists to new water for the discordant and groaning mills 
of their disgust with life; on the contrary, it should be 
shown specifically that, at the time when mankind was 
not yet ashamed of its cruelty, life in the world was 
brighter than it is nowadays when there are pessimists. 
The darkening of the heavens over man has always in- 
creased in proportion to the growth of man's shame be- 
fore man. The tired pessimistic outlook, the mistrust of 
the riddle of life, the icy negation of disgusted ennui, all 
those are not the signs of the most evil age of the human 


race: much rather do they come first to the light of day, 
as the swamp-flowers, which they are, when the swamp 
to which they belong, comes into existence — I mean the 
diseased refinement and moralisation, thanks to which 
the "animal man" has at last learnt to be ashamed of all 
his instincts. On the road to angel-hood (not to use in 
this context a harder word) man has developed that dys- 
peptic stomach and coated tongue, which have made not 
only the joy and innocence of the animal repulsive to 
him, but also life itself: — so that sometimes he stands 
with stopped nostrils before his own self, and, like Pope 
Innocent the Third, makes a black list of his own horrors 
("unclean generation, loathsome nutrition when in the 
maternal body, badness of the matter out of which man 
develops, awful stench, secretion of saliva, urine, and ex- 
crement"). Nowadays, when suffering is always trotted 
out as the first argument against existence, as its most sin- 
ister query, it is well to remember the times when men 
judged on converse principles because they could not dis- 
pense with the infliction of suffering, and saw therein a 
magic of the first order, a veritable bait of seduction to 

Perhaps in those days (this is to solace the weaklings) 
pain did not hurt so much as it does nowadays: any 
physician who has treated negroes (granted that these are 
taken as representative of the prehistoric man) suffering 
from severe internal inflammations which would bring a 
European, even though he had the soundest constitution, 
almost to despair, would be in a position to come to this 
conclusion. Pain has not the same effect with negroes. 
(The curve of human sensibilities to pain seems indeed to 


sink in an extraordinary and almost sudden fashion, as 
soon as one has passed the upper ten thousand or ten 
millions of over-civilised humanity, and I personally have 
no doubt that, by comparison with one painful night 
passed by one single hysterical chit of a cultured woman, 
the suffering of all the animals taken together who have 
been put to the question of the knife, so as to give scien- 
tific answers, are simply negligible.) We may perhaps be 
allowed to admit the possibility of the craving for cruelty 
not necessarily having become really extinct: it only re- 
quires, in view of the fact that pain hurts more nowadays, 
a certain sublimation and subtilisation, it must especially 
be translated to the imaginative and psychic plane, and be 
adorned with such smug euphemisms, that even the most 
fastidious and hypocritical conscience could never grow 
suspicious of their real nature ("Tragic pity" is one of 
these euphemisms: another is "les nostalgies de la croix"). 
What really raises one's indignation against suffering is 
not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffer- 
ing; such a senselessness, however, existed neither in 
Christianity, which interpreted suffering into a whole mys- 
terious salvation-apparatus, nor in the beliefs of the naive 
ancient man, who only knew how to find a meaning in 
suffering from the standpoint of the spectator, or the in- 
flictor of the suffering. In order to get the secret, undis- 
covered, and unwitnessed suffering out of the world it was 
almost compulsory to invent gods and a hierarchy of in- 
termediate beings, in short, something which wanders even 
among secret places, sees even in the dark, and makes a 
point of never missing an interesting and painful spectacle. 
It was with the help of such inventions that life got to 


learn the tour de force, which has become part of its 
stock-in-trade, the tour de jorce of self-justification, of 
the justification of evil; nowadays this would perhaps re- 
quire other auxiliary devices (for instance, life as a riddle, 
life as a problem of knowledge). "Every evil is justified 
in the sight of which a god finds edification," so rang the 
logic of primitive sentiment — and, indeed, was it only of 
primitive? The gods conceived as friends of spectacles of 
cruelty — oh, how far does this primeval conception ex- 
tend even nowadays into our European civilisation! One 
would perhaps like in this context to consult Luther and 
Calvin. It is at any rate certain that even the Greeks 
knew no more piquant seasoning for the happiness of 
their gods than the joys of cruelty. What, do you think, 
was the mood with which Homer makes his gods look down 
upon the fates of men? What final meaning have at 
bottom the Trojan War and similar tragic horrors? It 
is impossible to entertain any doubt on the point: they 
were intended as festival games for the gods, and, in so far 
as the poet is of a more godlike breed than other men. as 
festival games also for the poets. It was in just this spirit 
and no other, that at a later date the moral philosophers 
of Greece conceived the eyes of God as still looking down 
on the moral struggle, the heroism, and the self-torture of 
the virtuous; the Heracles of duty was on a stage, and 
was conscious of the fact; virtue without witnesses was 
something quite unthinkable for this nation of actors. 
Must not that philosophic invention, so audacious and so 
fatal, which was then absolutely new to Europe, the in- 
vention of "free will," of the absolute spontaneity of man 
in good and evil, simply have been made for the specific 


purpose of justifying the idea, that the interest of the 
gods in humanity and human virtue was inexhaustible? 
There would never on the stage of this free-will world 
be a dearth of really new, really novel and exciting situ- 
ations, plots, catastrophes. A world thought out on com- 
pletely deterministic lines would be easily guessed by the 
gods, and would consequently soon bore them — sufficient 
reason for these friends of the gods, the philosophers, not 
to ascribe to their gods such a deterministic world. The 
whole of ancient humanity is full of delicate consideration 
for the spectator, being as it is a world of thorough pub- 
licity and theatricality, which could not conceive of happi- 
ness without spectacles and festivals. — And, as has already 
been said, even in great punishment there is so much 
which is festive. 


The feeling of "ought," of personal obligation (to take 
up again the train of our inquiry), has had, as we saw, its 
origin in the oldest and most original personal relationship 
that there is, the relationship between buyer and seller, 
creditor and owner: here it was that individual confronted 
individual, and that individual matched himself against 
individual. There has not yet been found a grade of 
civilisation so low, as not to manifest some trace of this 
relationship. Making prices, assessing values, thinking 
out equivalents, exchanging— all this preoccupied the 
primal thoughts of man to such an extent that in a certain 
sense it constituted thinking itself: it was here that was 
trained the oldest form of sagacity, it was here m this 


sphere that we can perhaps trace the first commencement 
of man's pride, of his feeling of superiority over other ani- 
mals. Perhaps our word "Mensch" (manas) still ex- 
presses just something of this self-pride: man denoted 
himself as the being who measures values, who values and 
measures, as the "assessing" animal par excellence. Sale 
and purchase, together with their psychological concomi- 
tants, are older than the origins of any form of social or- 
ganisation and union: it is rather from the most rudi- 
mentary form of individual right that the budding con- 
sciousness of exchange, commerce, debt, right, obligation, 
compensation was first transferred to the rudest and most 
elementary of the social complexes (in their relation to 
similar complexes), the habit of comparing force with 
force, together with that of measuring, of calculating. His 
eye was now focussed to this perspective; and with that 
ponderous consistency characteristic of ancient thought, 
which, though set in motion with difficulty, yet proceeds 
inflexibly along the line on which it has started, man soon 
arrived at the great generalisation, "everything has its 
price, all can be paid for," the oldest and most naive moral 
canon of justice, the beginning of all "kindness," of all 
"equity," of all "goodwill," of all "objectivity" in the 
world. Justice in this initial phase is the goodwill among 
people of about equal power to come to terms with each 
other, to come to an understanding again by means of a 
settlement, and with regard to the less powerful, to com- 
pel them to agree among themselves to a settlement. 

Measured always by the standard of antiquity (this 


antiquity, moreover, is present or again possible at all 
periods) , the community stands to its members in that im- 
portant and radical relationship of creditor to his ew- 
ers." Man lives in a community, man enjoys the advan- 
tages of a community (and what advantages! we occasion- 
ally underestimate them nowadays), man lives protected, 
spared, in peace and trust, secure from certain injuries 
and enmities, to which the man outside the community, 
the "peaceless" man, is exposed, — a German understands 
the original meaning of "Elend" {elend), — secure because 
he has entered into pledges and obligations to the com- 
munity in respect of these very injuries and enmities. 
What happens when this is not the case? The commun- 
ity, the defrauded creditor, will get itself paid, as well as 
it can, one can reckon on that. In this case the question 
of the direct damage done by the offender is quite sub- 
sidiary: quite apart from this the criminal* is above all a 
breaker, a breaker of word and covenant to the whole, as 
regards all the advantages and amenities of the communal 
life in which up to that time he had participated. The 
criminal is an "ower" who not only fails to repay the ad- 
vances and advantages that have been given to him, but 
even sets out to attack his creditor: consequently he is in 
the future not only, as is fair, deprived of all these ad- 
vantages and amenities — he is in addition reminded of 
the importance of those advantages. The wrath of the 
injured creditor, of the community, puts him back in the 
wild and outlawed status from which he was previously 
protected: the community repudiates him — and now every 
kind of enmity can vent itself on him. Punishment is in. 

* German: "Verbrecher."— H. B. S. 


this stage of civilisation simply the copy, the mimic, of 
the normal treatment of the hated, disdained, and con- 
quered enemy, who is not only deprived of every right 
and protection but of every mercy; so we have the mar- 
tial law and triumphant festival of the vce victisf in all its 
mercilessness and cruelty. This shows why war itself 
(counting the sacrificial cult of war) has produced all the 
forms under which punishment has manifested itself in 


As it grows more powerful, the community tends to take 
the offences of the individual less seriously, because they 
are now regarded as being much less revolutionary and 
dangerous to the corporate existence: the evil-doer is no 
more outlawed and put outside the pale, the common 
wrath can no longer vent itself upon him with its old 
licence, — on the contrary, from this very time it is against 
this wrath, and particularly against the wrath of those 
directly injured, that the evil-doer is carefully shielded and 
protected by the community. As, in fact, the penal law 
develops, the following characteristics become more and 
more clearly marked: compromise with the wrath of those 
directly affected by the misdeed; a consequent endeavour 
to localise the matter and to prevent a further, or indeed 
a general spread of the disturbance; attempts to find 
equivalents and to settle the whole matter (compositio); 
above all, the will, which manifests itself with increasing 
definiteness, to treat every offence as in a certain degree 
capable of being paid off, and consequently, at any rate 


up to a certain point, to isolate the offender from his act. 
As the power and the self-consciousness of a community 
increases, so proportionately does the penal law become 
mitigated; conversely every weakening and jeopardising 
of the community revives the harshest forms of that law. 
The creditor has always grown more humane proportion- 
ately as he has grown more rich; finally the amount of 
injury he can endure without really suffering becomes the 
criterion of his wealth. It is possible to conceive of a 
society blessed with so great a consciousness of its own 
power as to indulge in the most aristocratic luxury of 
letting its wrong-doers go scot-jree. — "What do my para- 
sites matter to me?" might society say. "Let them live 
and flourish! I am strong enough for it." — The justice 
which began with the maxim, "Everything can be paid 
off, everything must be paid off," ends with connivance 
at the escape of those who cannot pay to escape — it ends, 
like every good thing on earth, by destroying itself. — 
The self-destruction of Justice! we know the pretty name 
it calls itself — Grace! it remains, as is obvious, the privi- 
lege of the strongest, better still, their super-law. 


A deprecatory word here against the attempts, that 
have lately been made, to find the origin of justice on 
quite another basis — namely, on that of resentment. Let 
me whisper a word in the ear of the psychologists, if they 
would fain study revenge itself at close quarters: this 
plant blooms its prettiest at present among Anarchists 
and anti-Semites, a hidden flower, as it has ever been, like 


the violet, though, forsooth, with another perfume. And 
as like must necessarily emanate from like, it will not be 
a matter for surprise that it is just in such circles that we 
see the birth of endeavours (it is their old birthplace — 
compare above, First Essay, paragraph 14), to sanctify 
revenge under the name of justice (as though Justice were 
at bottom merely a development of the consciousness of 
injury), and thus with the rehabilitation of revenge to 
reinstate generally and collectively all the reactive emo- 
tions. I object to this last point least of all. It even 
seems meritorious when regarded from the standpoint 
of the whole problem of biology (from which standpoint 
the value of these emotions has up to the present been 
underestimated). And that to which I alone call atten- 
tion, is the circumstance that it is the spirit of revenge 
itself, from which develops this new nuance of scientific 
equity (for the benefit of hate, envy, mistrust, jealousy, 
suspicion, rancour, revenge). This scientific "equity" 
stops immediately and makes way for the accents of 
deadly enmity and prejudice, so soon as another group 
of emotions comes on the scene, which in my opinion are 
of a much higher biological value than these reactions, 
and consequently have a paramount claim to the valua- 
tion and appreciation of science: I mean the really active 
emotions, such as personal and material ambition, and 
so forth. (E. Diihring, Value of Life; Course of Pliiloso- 
pliy, and passim.) So much against this tendency in 
general: but as for the particular maxim of Duhring's, 
that the home of Justice is to be found in the sphere of 
the reactive feelings, our love of truth compels us dras- 
tically to invert his own proposition and to oppose to him 


this other maxim: the last sphere conquered by the spirit 
of justice is the sphere of the feeling of reaction! When 
it really comes about that the just man remains just even 
as regards his injurer (and not merely cold, moderate, re- 
served, indifferent: being just is always a positive state) ; 
when, in spite of the strong provocation of personal insult, 
contempt, and calumny, the lofty and clear objectivity of 
the just and judging eye (whose glance is as profound as 
it is gentle) is untroubled, why then we have a piece of 
perfection, a past master of the world — something, in 
fact, which it would not be wise to expect, and which 
should not at any rate be too easily believed. Speaking 
generally, there is no doubt but that even the justest in- 
dividual only requires a little dose of hostility, malice, or 
innuendo to drive the blood into his brain and the fairness 
from it. The active man, the attacking, aggressive man 
is always a hundred degrees nearer to justice than the man 
who merely reacts; he certainly has no need to adopt the 
tactics, necessary in the case of the reacting man, of mak- 
ing false and biassed valuations of his object. It is, in 
point of fact, for this reason that the aggressive man has 
at all times enjoyed the stronger, bolder, more aristocratic, 
and also jreer outlook, the better conscience. On the other 
hand, we already surmise who it really is that has on his 
conscience the invention of the "bad conscience," — the 
resentful man ! Finally, let man look at himself in history. 
In what sphere up to the present has the whole adminis- 
tration of law, the acutal need of law, found its earthly 
home? Perchance in the sphere of the reacting man? Not 
for a minute: rather in that of the active, strong, spon- 
taneous, aggressive man? I deliberately defy the above- 


mentioned agitator (who himself makes this self-confes- 
sion, "the creed of revenge has run through all my works 
and endeavours like the red thread of Justice"), and say, 
that judged historically law in the world represents the 
very war against the reactive feelings, the very war waged 
on those feelings by the powers of activity and aggri 
sion, which devote some of their strength to damming and 
keeping within bounds this effervescence of hysterical re- 
activity, and to forcing it to some compromise. Every- 
where where justice is practised and justice is maintained, 
it is to be observed that the stronger power, when con- 
fronted with the weaker powers which are inferior to it 
(whether they be groups, or individuals), searches for 
weapons to put an end to the senseless fury of resent- 
ment, while it carries on its object, partly by taking the 
victim of resentment out of the clutches of revenge, partly 
by substituting for revenge a campaign of its own against 
the enemies of peace and order, partly by finding, sug- 
gesting, and occasionally enforcing settlements, partly by 
standardising certain equivalents for injuries, to which 
equivalents the element of resentment is henceforth finally 
referred. The most drastic measure, however, taken and 
effectuated by the supreme power, to combat the pre- 
ponderance of the feelings of spite and vindictiveness — 
it takes this measure as soon as it is at all strong enough 
to do so — is the foundation of law, the imperative decla- 
ration of what in its eyes is to be regarded as just and 
lawful, and what unjust and unlawful: and while, after 
the foundation of law, the supreme power treats the ag- 
gressive and arbitrary acts of individuals, or of whole 


groups, as a violation of law, and a revolt against itself, 
it distracts the feelings of its subjects from the immediate 
injury inflicted by such a violation, and thus eventually 
attains the very opposite result to that always desired by 
revenge, which sees and recognises nothing but the stand- 
point of the injured party. From henceforth the eye be- 
comes trained to a more and more impersonal valuation 
of the deed, even the eye of the injured party himself 
(though this is in the final stage of all, as has been pre- 
viously remarked) — on this principle "right" and "wrong" 
first manifest themselves after the foundation of law (and 
not, as Duhring maintains, only after the act of violation). 
To talk of intrinsic right and intrinsic wrong is absolutely 
nonsensical; intrinsically, an injury, an oppression, an 
exploitation, an annihilation can be nothing wrong, inas- 
much as life is essentially (that is, in its cardinal func- 
tions) something which functions by injuring, oppressing, 
exploiting, and annihilating, and is absolutely inconceiv- 
able without such a character. It is necessary to make 
an even more serious confession: — viewed from the most 
advanced biological standpoint, conditions of legality can 
be only exceptional conditions, in that they are partial 
restrictions of the real life-will, which makes for power, 
and in that they are subordinated to the life-will's general 
end as particular means, that is, as means to create larger 
units of strength. A legal organisation, conceived of as 
sovereign and universal, not as a weapon in a fight of 
complexes of power, but as a weapon against fighting, 
generally something after the style of Diihring's com- 
munistic model of treating every will as equal with every 


other will, would be a principle hostile to life, a destroyer 
and dissolver of man, an outrage on the future of man, a 
symptom of fatigue, a secret cut to Nothingness. — 


A word more on the origin and end of punishment — 
two problems which are or ought to be kept distinct, but 
which unfortunately are usually lumped into one. And 
what tactics have our moral genealogists employed up to 
the present in these cases? Their inveterate naivete. 
They find out some "end" in the punishment, for instance, 
revenge and deterrence, and then in all their innocence 
set this end at the beginning, as the causa fiendi of the 
punishment, and — they have done the trick. But the 
patching up of a history of the origin of law is the last 
use to which the "End in Law"* ought to be put. Per- 
haps there is no more pregnant principle for any kind of 
history than the following, which, difficult though it is to 
master, should none the less be mastered in every detail. — 
The origin of the existence of a thing and its final utility, 
its practical application and incorporation in a system of 
ends, are toto ado opposed to each other — everything, 
anything, which exists and which prevails anywhere, will 
always be put to new purposes by a force superior to it- 
self, will be commandeered afresh, will be turned and 
transformed to new uses; all "happening" in the organic 
world consists of overpowering and dominating, and again 
all overpowering and domination is a new interpretation 
and adjustment, which must necessarily obscure or ab- 
solutely extinguish the subsisting "meaning" and "end." 


The most perfect comprehension of the utility of any- 
physiological organ (or also of a legal institution, social 
custom, political habit, form in art or in religious wor- 
ship) does not for a minute imply any simultaneous com- 
prehension of its origin: this may seem uncomfortable 
and unpalatable to the older men, — for it has been the 
immemorial belief that understanding the final cause or 
the utility of a thing, a form, an institution, means also 
understanding the reason for its origin: to give an ex- 
ample of this logic, the eye was made to see, the hand 
was made to grasp. So even punishment was conceived 
as invented with a view to punishing. But all ends and 
all utilities are only signs that a Will to Power has mas- 
tered a less powerful force, has impressed thereon out of 
its own self the meaning of a function; and the whole 
history of a "Thing," an organ, a custom, can on the 
same principle be regarded as a continuous "sign-chain" 
of perpetually new interpretations and adjustments, whose 
causes, so far from needing to have even a mutual con- 
nection, sometimes follow and alternate with each other 
absolutely haphazard. Similarly, the evolution of a 
"Thing," of a custom, is anything but its progressus to 
an end, still less a logical and direct progressus attained 
with the minimum expenditure of energy and cost: it is 
rather the succession of processes of subjugation, more or 
less profound, more or less mutually independent, which 
operate on the thing itself; it is, further, the resistance 
which in each case invariably displayed this subjugation, 
the Protean wriggles by way of defence and reaction, and, 

* An allusion to Der Zweck im Recht, by the great German 
jurist, Professor Ihering. 


further, the results of successful counter-efforts. The 
form is fluid, but the meaning is even more so — even in- 
side every individual organism the case is the same: with 
every genuine growth of the whole, the "function" of the 
individual organs becomes shifted, — in certain cases a 
partial perishing of these organs, a diminution of their 
numbers (for instance, through annihilation of the con- 
necting members), can be a symptom of growing strength 
and perfection. What I mean is this: even partial loss 
of utility, decay, and degeneration, loss of function and 
purpose, in a word, death, appertain to the conditions of 
the genuine progressus; which always appears in the shape 
of a will and way to greater power, and is always realised 
at the expense of innumerable smaller powers. The mag- 
nitude of a "progress" is gauged by the greatness of the 
sacrifice that it requires: humanity as a mass sacrificed to 
the prosperity of the one stronger species of Man — that 
would be a. progress. I emphasise all the more this cardi- 
nal characteristic of the historic method, for the reason 
that in its essence it runs counter to predominant instincts 
and prevailing taste, which must prefer to put up with 
absolute casualness, even with the mechanical senseless- 
ness of ail phenomena, than with the theory of a power- 
will, in exhaustive play throughout all phenomena. The 
democratic idiosyncrasy against everything which rules 
and wishes to rule, the modern misarchism (to coin a bad 
word for a bad thing), has gradually but so thoroughly 
transformed itself into the guise of intellectualism, the 
most abstract intellectualism, that even nowadays it pene- 
trates and has the right to penetrate step by step into the 
most exact and apparently the most objective sciences: this 


tendency has, in fact, in my view already dominated the 
whole of physiology and biology, and to their detriment, 
as is obvious, in so far as it has spirited away a radical 
idea, the idea of true activity. The tyranny of this idio- 
syncrasy, however, results in the theory of "adaptation" 
being pushed forward into the van of the argument, ex- 
ploited; adaptation — that means to say, a second-class 
activity, a mere capacity for "reacting"; in fact, life itself 
has been defined (by Herbert Spencer) as an increasingly 
effective internal adaptation to external circumstances. 
This definition, however, fails to realise the real essence 
of life, its will to power. It fails to appreciate the para- 
mount superiority enjoyed by those plastic forces of spon- 
taneity, aggression, and encroachment with their new in- 
terpretations and tendencies, to the operation of which 
adaptation is only a natural corollary: consequently the 
sovereign office of the highest functionaries in the organ- 
ism itself (among which the life-will appears as an active 
and formative principle) is repudiated. One remembers 
Huxley's reproach to Spencer of his "administrative Ni- 
hilism": but it is a case of something much more than 


To return to our subject, namely punishment, we must 
make consequently a double distinction: first, the rela- 
tively permanent element, the custom, the act, the 
"drama," a certain rigid sequence of methods of pro- 
cedure; on the other hand, the fluid element, the mean- 
ing, the end, the expectation which is attached to the oper- 


ation of such procedure. At this point we immediately 
assume, per analogiam (in accordance with the theory of 
the historic method, which we have elaborated above), 
that the procedure itself is something older and earlier 
than its utilisation in punishment, that this utilisation was 
introduced and interpreted into the procedure (which had 
existed for a long time, but whose employment had another 
meaning), in short, that the case is different from that 
hftherto supposed by our naif genealogists of morals and 
of law, who thought that the procedure was invented for 
the purpose of punishment, in the same way that the 
hand had been previously thought to have been invented 
for the purpose of grasping. With regard to the other 
element in punishment, its fluid element, its meaning, the 
idea of punishment in a very Jate stage of civilisation (for 
instance, contemporary Europe) is not content with man- 
ifesting merely one meaning, but manifests a whole syn- 
thesis "of meanings." The past general history of pun- 
ishment, the history of its employment for the most diverse 
ends, crystallises eventually into a kind of unity, which is 
difficult to analyse into its parts, and which, it is neces- 
sary to emphasise, absolutely defies definition. (It is 
nowadays impossible to say definitely the precise reason 
fur punishment: all ideas, in which a whole process is 
promiscuously comprehended, elude definition; it is only 
that which has no history, which can be defined.) At 
an earlier stage, on the contrary, that synthesis of mean- 
ings appears much less rigid and much more elastic; we 
can realise how in each individual case the elements of 
the synthesis change their value and their position, so 
that now one element and now another stands nut and pre- 


dominates over the others, nay, in certain cases one ele- 
ment (perhaps the end of deterrence) seems to eliminate 
all the rest. At any rate, so as to give some idea of the 
uncertain, supplementary, and accidental nature of the 
meaning of punishment and of the manner in which one 
identical procedure can be employed and adapted for the 
most diametrically opposed objects, I will at this point 
give a scheme that has suggested itself to me, a scheme it- 
self based on comparatively small and accidental ma- 
terial. — Punishment, as rendering the criminal harmless 
and incapable of further injury. — Punishment, as com- 
pensation for the injury sustained by the injured party, 
in any form whatsoever (including the form of senti- 
mental compensation). — Punishment, as an isolation of 
that which disturbs the equilibrium, so as to prevent the 
further spreading of the disturbance. — Punishment as a 
means of inspiring fear of those who determine and exe- 
cute the punishment. — Punishment as a kind of compen- 
sation for advantages which the wrong-doer has up to that 
time enjoyed (for example, when he is utilised as a slave 
in the mines) . — Punishment, as the elimination of an ele- 
ment of decay (sometimes of a whole branch, as accord- 
ing to the Chinese laws, consequently as a means to the 
purification of the race, or the preservation of a social 
type). — Punishment as a festival, as the violent oppres- 
sion and humiliation of an enemy that has at last been 
subdued. — Punishment as a mnemonic, whether for him 
who suffers the punishment — the so-called "correction," 
or for the witnesses of its administration. — Punishment, as 
the payment of a fee stipulated for by the power which 
protects the evil-doer from the excesses of revenge. — 


Punishment, as a compromise with the natural phenom- 
enon of revenge, in so far as revenge is still maintained 
and claimed as a privilege by the stronger races. — Pun- 
ishment as a declaration and measure of war against an 
enemy of peace, of law, of order, of authority, who is 
fought by society with the weapons which war provides, 
as a spirit dangerous to the community, as a breaker of 
the contract on which the community is based, as a rebel, 
a traitor, and a breaker of the peace. 


This list is certainly not complete; it is obvious that 
punishment is overloaded with utilities of all kinds. This 
makes it all the more permissible to eliminate one supposed 
utility, which passes, at any rate in the popular mind. 
for its most essential utility, and which is just what even 
now provides the strongest support for that faith in pun- 
ishment which is nowadays for many reasons tottering. 
Punishment is supposed to have the value of exciting in 
the guilty the consciousness of guilt; in punishment is 
sought the proper instrumcntum of that psychic reaction 
which becomes known as a "bad conscience," "remorse." 
But this theory is even, from the point of view of the 
present, a violation of reality and psychology: and how 
much more so is the case when we have to deal with the 
longest period of man's history, his primitive history! 
Genuine remorse is certainly extremely rare among wron-j; 
doers and the victims of punishment; prisons and houses 
of correction are not the soil on which this worm of re- 
morse pullulates for choice— this is the unanimous opinion 


of all conscientious observers, who in many cases arrive 
at such a judgment with enough reluctance and against 
their own personal wishes. Speaking generally, punish- 
ment hardens and numbs, it produces concentration, it 
sharpens the consciousness of alienation, it strengthens the 
power of resistance. When it happens that it breaks the 
man's energy and brings about a piteous prostration and 
abjectness, such a result is certainly even less salutary 
than the average effect of punishment, which is character- 
ised by a harsh and sinister doggedness. The thought of 
those prehistoric millennia brings us to the unhesitating 
conclusion, that it was simply through punishment that 
the evolution of the consciousness of guilt was most forc- 
ibly retarded — at any rate in the victims of the punishing 
power. In particular, let us not underestimate the extent 
to which, by the very sight of the judicial and executive 
procedure, the wrong-doer is himself prevented from feel- 
ing that his deed, the character of his act, is intrinsically 
reprehensible: for he sees clearly the same kind of acts 
practised in the service of justice, and then called good, 
and practised with a good conscience; acts such as es- 
pionage, trickery, bribery, trapping, the whole intriguing 
and insidious art of the policeman and the informer — 
the whole system, in fact, manifested in the different kinds 
of punishment (a system not excused by passion, but 
based on principle), of robbing, oppressing, insulting, im- 
prisoning, racking, murdering. — All this he sees treated by 
his judges, not as acts meriting censure and condemnation 
in themselves, but only in a particular context and appli- 
cation. It was not on this soil that grew the "bad con- 
science," that most sinister and interesting plant of our 


earthly vegetation — in point of fact, throughout a most 
lengthy period, no suggestion of having to do with a 
'•guilty man" manifested itself in the consciousness of the 
man who judged and punished. One had merely to deal 
with an author of an injury, an irresponsible piece of fate. 
And the man himself, on whom the punishment subse- 
quently fell like a piece of fate, was occasioned no more 
of an "inner pain" than would be occasioned by the sud- 
den approach of some uncalculated event, some terrible 
natural catastrophe, a rushing, crushing avalanche against 
which there is no resistance. 

This truth came insidiously enough to the consciousness 
of Spinoza (to the disgust of his commentators, who (like 
Kuno Fischer, for instance) give themselves no end of 
trouble to misunderstand him on this point), when one 
afternoon (as he sat raking up who knows what memory ) 
he indulged in the question of what was really left for him 
personally of the celebrated Morsus coiiscicnt'uc — Spinoza, 
who had relegated ''good and evil" to the sphere of human 
imagination, and indignantly defended the honour of his 
"free" God against those blasphemers who affirmed that 
God did everything sub rationc bom ("but this was tanta- 
mount to subordinating God to fate, and would really be 
the greatest of all absurdities"). For Spinoza the world 
had returned again to that innocence in which it lay be- 
fore the discovery of the bad conscience: what, then, had 
happened to the morsus consdentia? "The antithesis of 
gaudium," said he at last to himself, — "A sadness ac- 


companied by the recollection of a past event which has 
turned out contrary to all expectation" (Eth. iii., Propos. 
xviii. Schol. i. ii.). Evil-doers have throughout thou- 
sands of years felt when overtaken by punishment exactly 
like Spinoza, on the subject of their "offence": "here is 
something which went wrong contrary to my anticipation," 
not "I ought not to have done this." — They submitted 
themselves to punishment, just as one submits one's self 
to a disease, to a misfortune, or to death, with that stub- 
born and resigned fatalism which gives the Russians, for 
instance, even nowadays, the advantage over us West- 
erners, in the handling of life. If at that period there was 
a critique of action, the criterion was prudence: the real 
effect of punishment is unquestionably chiefly to be found 
in a sharpening of the sense of prudence, in a lengthening 
of the memory, in a will to adopt more of a policy of 
caution, suspicion, and secrecy; in the recognition that 
there are many things which are unquestionably beyond 
one's capacity; in a kind of improvement in self-criticism. 
The broad effects which can be obtained by punishment 
in man and beast, are the increase of fear, the sharpening 
of the sense of cunning, the mastery of the desires: so 
it is that punishment tames man, but does not make him 
"better" — it would be more correct even to go so far as 
to assert the contrary ("Injury makes a man cunning," 
says a popular proverb: so far as it makes him cunning, 
it makes him also bad. Fortunately, it often enough 
makes him stupid). 


At this juncture I cannot avoid trying to give a tenta- 


tive and provisional expression to my own hypothesis con- 
cerning the origin of the bad conscience: it is difficult to 
make it fully appreciated, and it requires continuous med- 
itation, attention, and digestion. I regard the bad con- 
science as the serious illness which man was bound to con- 
tract under the stress of the most radical change which he 
has ever experienced — that change, when he found himself 
finally imprisoned within the pale of society and of peace. 
Just like the plight of the water-animals, when they 
were compelled either to become land-animals or to per- 
ish, so was the plight of these half-animals, perfectly 
adapted as they were to the savage life of war, prowling, 
and adventure — suddenly all their instincts were rendered 
worthless and "switched off." Henceforward they had to 
walk on their feet — "carry themselves," whereas hereto- 
fore they had been carried by the water: a terrible heavi- 
ness oppressed them. They found themselves clumsy in 
obeying the simplest directions, confronted with this new 
and unknown world they had no longer their old guides — 
the regulative instincts that had led them unconsciously 
to safety — they were reduced, were those unhappy crea- 
tures, to thinking, inferring, calculating, putting together 
causes and results, reduced to that poorest and most er- 
ratic organ of theirs, their "consciousness." I do not be- 
lieve there was ever in the world such a feeling of misery, 
such a leaden discomfort — further, those old instincts had 
not immediately ceased their demands! Only it was dif- 
ficult and rarely possible to gratify them: speaking 
broadly, they were compelled to satisfy themselves by 
new and, as it were, hole-and-corner methods. All in- 
stincts which do not find a vent without, turn inwards — 


this is what I mean by the growing "internalisation" of 
man: consequently we have the first growth in man, of 
what subsequently was called his soul. The whole inner 
world, originally as thin as if it had been stretched be- 
tween two layers of skin, burst apart and expanded pro- 
portionately, and obtained depth, breadth, and height, 
when man's external outlet became obstructed. These 
terrible bulwarks, with which the social organisation pro- 
tected itself against the old instincts of freedom (punish- 
ments belong pre-eminently to these bulwarks), brought 
it about that all those instincts of wild, free, prowling 
man became turned backwards against man himself. En- 
mity, cruelty, the delight in persecution, in surprises, 
change, destruction — the turning all these instincts against 
their own possessors: this is the origin of the "bad con- 
science." It was man, who, lacking external enemies and 
obstacles, and imprisoned as he was in the oppressive nar- 
rowness and monotony of custom, in his own impatience 
lacerated, persecuted, gnawed, frightened, and ill-treated 
himself; it was this animal in the hands of the tamer, 
which beat itself against the bars of its cage; it was this 
being who, pining and yearning for that desert home of 
which it had been deprived, was compelled to create out 
of its own self, an adventure, a torture-chamber, a hazard- 
ous and perilous desert — it was this fool, this homesick and 
desperate prisoner— who invented the "bad conscience." 
But thereby he introduced that most grave and sinister 
illness, from which mankind has not yet recovered, the 
suffering of man from the disease called man, as the re- 
sult of a violent breaking from his animal past, the result, 
as it were, of a spasmodic plunge into a new environment 


and new conditions of existence, the result of a declara- 
tion of war against the old instincts, which up to that time 
had been the staple of his power, his joy, his formidable- 
ness. Let us immediately add that this fact of an animal 
ego turning against itself, taking part against itself, pro- 
duced in the world so novel, profound, unheard-of, prob- 
lematic, inconsistent, and pregnant a phenomenon, that 
the aspect of the world was radically altered thereby. In 
sooth, only divine spectators could have appreciated the 
drama that then began, and whose end baffles conjecture 
as yet — a drama too subtle, too wonderful, too paradox- 
ical to warrant its undergoing a nonsensical and unheeded 
performance on some random grotesque planet! Hence- 
forth man is to be counted as one of the most unexpected 
and sensational lucky shots in the game of the "big baby" 
of Heracleitus, whether he be called Zeus or Chance — he 
awakens on his behalf the interest, excitement, hope, al- 
most the confidence, of his being the harbinger and fore- 
runner of something, of man being no end, but only a 
stage, an interlude, a bridge, a great promise. 


It is primarily involved in this hypothesis of the origin 
of the bad conscience, that that alteration was no gradual 
and no voluntary alteration, and that it did not manifest 
itself as an organic adaptation to new conditions, but as 
a break, a jump, a necessity, an inevitable fate, against 
which there was no resistance and never a spark of re- 
sentment. And secondarily, that the fitting of a hitherto 
unchecked and amorphous population into a fixed form, 


starting as it had done in an act of violence, could only 
be accomplished by acts of violence and nothing else — 
that the oldest "State" appeared consequently as a ghastly 
tyranny, a grinding ruthless piece of machinery, which 
went on working, till this raw material of a semi-animal 
populace was not only thoroughly kneaded and elastic, 
but also moulded. I used the word "State"; my meaning 
is self-evident, namely, a herd of blonde beasts of prey, a 
race of conquerors and masters, which with all its war- 
like organisation and all its organising power pounces 
with its terrible claws en a population, in numbers pos- 
sibly tremendously superior, but as yet formless, as yet 
nomad. Such is the origin of the "State." That fantas- 
tic theory that makes it begin with a contract is, I think, 
disposed of. He who can command, he who is a master 
by "nature," he who comes on the scene forceful in deed 
and gesture — what has he to do with contracts? Such 
beings defy calculation, they come like fate, without cause, 
reason, notice, excuse, they are there as the lightning is 
there, too terrible, too sudden, too convincing, too "dif- 
ferent," to be personally even hated. Their work is an 
instinctive creating and impressing of forms, they are the 
most involuntary, unconscious artists that there are: — 
their appearance produces instantaneously a scheme of 
sovereignty which is live, in which the functious are par- 
titioned and apportioned, in which above all no part is re- 
ceived or finds a place, until pregnant with a "meaning" 
in regard to the whole. They are ignorant of the mean- 
ing of guilt, responsibility, consideration, are these born 
organisers; in them predominates that terrible artist-ego- 
ism, that gleams like brass, and that knows itself justified 


to all eternity, in its work, even as a mother in her child. 
It is not in them that there grew the bad conscience, that 
is elementary —but it would not have grown without than, 
repulsive growth as it was, it would be missing, had not 
a tremendous quantity of freedom been expelled from the 
world by the stress of their hammer-strokes, their artist 
violence, or been at any rate made invisible and, as it were, 
latent. This instinct of freedom forced into being latent 
— it is already clear — this instinct of freedom farced back, 
trodden back, imprisoned within itself, and finally only 
able to find vent and relief in itself; this, only this, is the 
beginning of the "bad conscience." 


Beware of thinking lightly of this phenomenon, by rea- 
son of its initial painful ugliness. At bottom it is the 
same active force which is at work on a more grandiose 
scale in those potent artists and organisers, and builds 
states, where here, internally, on a smaller and pettier 
scale and with a retrogressive tendency, makes itself a 
bad conscience in the "labyrinth of the breast," to use 

ethe's phrase, and which builds negative ideals; it is, 
I repeat, that identical instinct of freedom (to use my own 
language, the will to power) : only the material, on which 
this force with all its constructive and tyrannous nature 
is let loose, is here man himself, his whole old animal self 
— and not as in the case of that more grandiose and sensa- 
tional phenomenon, the other man, other men. This se- 
cret self-tyranny, this cruelty of the artist, this delight 
in giving a form to one's self as a piece of difficult, re- 


fractory, and suffering material, in burning in a will, a 
critique, a contradiction, a contempt, a negation; this sin- 
ister and ghastly labour of love on the part of a soul, 
whose will is cloven in two within itself, which makes itself 
suffer from delight in the infliction of suffering; this 
wholly active bad conscience has finally (as one already 
anticipates) — true fountainhead as it is of idealism and 
imagination — produced an abundance of novel and amaz- 
ing beauty and affirmation, and perhaps has really been 
the first to give birth to beauty at all. What would beauty 
be, forsooth, if its contradiction had not first been pre- 
sented to consciousness, if the ugly had not first said to 
itself, "I am ugly"? At any rate, after this hint the 
problem of how far idealism and beauty can be traced 
in such opposite ideas as "selflessness," self-denial, self- 
sacrifice, becomes less problematical; and indubitably in 
future we shall certainly know the real and original char- 
acter of the delight experienced by the self-less, the self- 
denying, the self-sacrificing: this delight is a phase of 
cruelty. — So much provisionally for the origin of "altru- 
ism" as a moral value, and the marking out the ground 
from which this value has grown: it is only the bad con- 
science, only the will for self-abuse, that provides the nec- 
essary conditions for the existence of altruism as a value. 


Undoubtedly the bad conscience is an illness, but an 
illness as pregnancy is an illness. If we search out the 
conditions under which this illness reaches its most ter- 
rible and sublime zenith, we shall see what really first 


brought about its entry into the world. But to do this 
we must take a long breath, and we must first of all go 
back once again to an earlier point of view. The relation 
at civil law of the ower to his creditor (which has 
ready been discussed in detail), has been interpreted once 
again (and indeed in a manner which historically is ex- 
ceedingly remarkable and suspicious) into a relationship, 
which is perhaps more incomprehensible to us moderns 
than to any other era; that is, into the relationship of 
the existing generation to its ancestors. Within the origi- 
nal tribal association — v/e are talking of primitive times 
— each lft aeration recognises a legal obligation to- 

wards the earlier generation, and particularly towards the 
earliest, which founded the family (and this is something 
much more than a mere sentimental obligation, the ex- 
istence of which, during the longest period of man's his- 
tory, is by no means indisputable). There prevails in 
them the conviction that it is only thanks to sacrifices 
and efforts of their ancestors, that the race persists at all 
— and that this has to be paid back to them by sacrifices 
and services. Thus is recognized the o\ fa debt, 

which accumulates continually by reason of these an- 
cestors never ceasing in their subsequent life as potent 
spirits to secure by their power new privileges and advan- 
tages to the race. Gratis, perchance? But there is no 
gratis for that raw and "mean-souled" age. What return 
can be made?— Sacrifice (at first, nourishment, in its 
crude;! sense), festivals, temples, tributes of veneration, 
above all, obedience — since all customs are, qua works 
of the ancestors, equally their precepts and commands — 
are the ancestors ever given enough? This suspicion 


remains and grows: from time to time it extorts a great 
wholesale ransom, something monstrous in the way of re- 
payment of the creditor (the notorious sacrifice of the 
first-born, for example, blood, human blood in any case). 
The fear of ancestors and their power, the consciousness 
of owing debts to them, necessarily increases, according 
to this kind of logic, in the exact proportion that the race 
itself increases, that the race itself becomes more victor- 
ious, more independent, more honoured, more feared. 
This, and not the contrary, is the fact. Each step to- 
wards race decay, all disastrous events, all symptoms of 
degeneration, of approaching disintegration, always dimin- 
ish the fear of the founders' spirit, and whittle away the 
idea of his sagacity, providence, and potent presence. 
Conceive this crude kind of logic carried to its climax: it 
follows that the ancestors of the most powerful races must, 
through the growing fear that they exercise on the imagi- 
nations, grow themselves into monstrous dimensions, and 
become relegated to the gloom of a divine mystery that 
transcends imagination — the ancestor becomes at last 
necessarily transfigured into a god. Perhaps this is the 
very origin of the gods, that is, an origin from fear/ And 
those who feel bound to add, "but from piety also," will 
have difficulty in maintaining this theory, with regard to 
the primeval and longest period of the human race. And, 
of course, this is even more the case as regards the middle 
period, the formative period of the aristocratic races — 
the aristocratic races which have given back with interest 
to their founders, the ancestors (heroes, gods), all those 
qualities which in the meanwhile have appeared in them- 
selves, that is, the aristocratic qualities. We will later on 


glance again at the ennobling and promotion of the gods 
(which, of course, is totally distinct from their "sancti- 
fication") : let us now provisionally follow to its end the 
course of the whole of this development of the conscious- 
ness of "owing." 


According to the teaching of history, the consciousness 
of owing debts to the deity by no means came to an end 
with the decay of the clan organisation of society; just 
as mankind has inherited the ideas of "good" and "bad" 
from the race-nobility (together with its fundamental 
tendency towards establishing social distinctions) , so with 
the heritage of the racial and tribal gods it has also in- 
herited the incubus of debts as yet unpaid and the desire 
to discharge them. The transition is effected by those 
large populations of slaves and bondsmen, who, whether 
through compulsion or through submission and "mimi- 
cry" have accommodated themselves to the religion of 
their masters; through this channel these inherited 
tendencies inundate the world. The feeling of owing a 
debt to the deity has grown continuously for several cen- 
turies, always in the same proportion in which the idea of 
God and the consciousness of God have grown and become 
exalted among mankind. (The whole history of ethnic 
fights, victories, reconciliations, amalgamations, every- 
thing, in fact, which precedes the eventual classing of all 
the social elements in each great race-svnthesis, are mir- 
rored in the hotch-potch genealogy of their gods, in the 
legends of their fights, victories, and reconciliations. Prog- 


ress towards universal empires invariably means progress 
towards universal deities; despotism, with its subjugation 
of the independent nobility, always paves the way for 
some system or other of monotheism.) The appearance 
of the Christian god, as the record god up to this time, 
has for that very reason brought equally into the world the 
record amount of guilt consciousness. Granted that we 
have gradually started on the reverse movement, there is 
no little probability in the deduction, based on the con- 
tinuous decay in the belief in the Christian god, to the 
effect that there also already exists a considerable decay 
in the human consciousness of owing (ought) ; in fact, 
we cannot shut our eyes to the prospect of the complete 
and eventual triumph of atheism freeing mankind from all 
this feeling of obligation to their origin, their causa prima. 
Atheism and a kind of second innocence complement and 
supplement each other. 


So much for my rough and preliminary sketch of the 
interrelation of the ideas "ought" (owe) and "duty" with 
the postulates of religion. I have intentionally shelved up 
to the present the actual moralisation of these ideas (their 
being pushed back into the conscience, or more precisely 
the interweaving of the bad conscience with the idea of 
God), and at the end of the last paragraph used language 
to the effect that this moralisation did not exist, and that 
consequently these ideas had necessarily come to an end, 
by reason of what had happened to their hypothesis, the 
credence in our "creditor," in God. The actual facts 


differ terribly from this theory. It is with the moralisa- 
tion of the ideas "ought" and "duty," and with their 
being pushed back into the bad conscience, that comes 
the first actual attempt to reverse the direction of the de- 
velopment we have just described, or at any rate to arrest 
its evolution ; it is just at this juncture that the very hope 
of an eventual redemption has to put itself once for all 
into the prison of pessimism, it is at this juncture that the 
eye lias to recoil and rebound in despair from off an ada- 
mantine impossibility, it is at this juncture that the ideas 
"guilt" and "duty" have to turn backwards — turn back- 
wards against whom? There is no doubt about it; pri- 
marily against the "ower," in whom the bad conscience 
now establishes itself, eats, extends, and grows like a poly- 
pus throughout its length and breadth, all with such viru- 
lence, that at last, with the impossibility of paying the 
debt, there becomes conceived the idea of the impossibility 
of paying the penalty, the thought of its inexpiability 
(the idea of "eternal punishment") — finally, too, it turns 
against the "creditor," whether found in the causa prima 
of man, the origin of the human race, its sire, who hence- 
forth becomes burdened with a curse (•'Adam," "original 
sin," "determination of the will"), or in Nature from 
whose womb man springs, and on whom the responsibility 
for the principle of evil is now cast ("Diabolisation of 
ture"), or in existence generally, on this logic an abso- 
lute white elephant, with which mankind is landed (the 
Nihilistic flight from life, the demand for Nothingness, or 
for the opposite of existence, for some other existence, 
I'.uddhism and the like) — till suddenly we stand before 
that paradoxical and awful expedient, through which a 


tortured humanity has found a temporary alleviation, 
that stroke of genius called Christianity: — God person- 
ally immolating himself for the debt of man, God paying 
himself personally out of a pound of his own flesh, God 
as the one being who can deliver man from what man had 
become unable to deliver himself — the creditor playing 
scapegoat for his debtor, from love (can you believe it?), 
from love of his debtor! . . . 


The reader will already have conjectured what took 
place on the stage and behind the scenes of this drama. 
That will for self-torture, that inverted cruelty of the ani- 
mal man, who, turned subjective and scared into intro- 
spection (encaged as he was in "the State," as part of 
his taming process), invented the bad conscience so as 
to hurt himself, after the natural outlet for this will to 
hurt, became blocked — in other words, this man of the 
bad conscience exploited the religious hypothesis so as to 
carry his martyrdom to the ghastliest pitch of agonised 
intensity. Owing something to God: this thought becomes 
his instrument of torture. He apprehends in God the 
most extreme antitheses that he can find to his own char- 
acteristic and ineradicable animal instincts, he himself 
gives a new interpretation to these animal instincts as be- 
ing against what he "owes" to God (as enmity, rebellion, 
and revolt against the "Lord," the "Father," the "Sire," 
the "Beginning of the world"), he places himself between 
the horns of the dilemma, "God" and "Devil." Every 
negation which he is inclined to utter to himself, to the 


nature, naturalness, and reality of his being, he whips 
into an ejaculation of "yes," uttering it as something ex- 
isting, living, efficient, as being God, as the holiness of 
God, the judgment of God, as the hangmanship of God, 
as transcendence, as eternity, as unending torment, as hell, 
as infinity of punishment and guilt. This is a kind of 
madness of the will in the sphere of psychological cruelty 
which is absolutely unparalleled: — man's will to find him- 
self guilty and blameworthy to the point of inexpiability, 
his will to think of himself as punished, without the pun- 
ishment ever being able to balance the guilt, his will to 
infect and to poison the fundamental basis of the universe 
with the problem of punishment and guilt, in order to cut 
off once and for all any escape out of this labyrinth of 
"fixed ideas," his will for rearing an ideal — that of the 
"holy God" — face to face with which he can have tangible 
proof of his own unworthiness. Alas for this mad melan- 
choly beast man! What phantasies invade it, what par- 
oxysms of perversity, hysterical senselessness, and mental 
bestiality break out immediately, at the very slightest 
check on its being the beast of action ! All this is exces- 
sively interesting, but at the same time tainted with a 
black, gloomy, enervating melancholy, so that a forcible 
veto must be invoked against looking too long into these 
abysses. Here is disease, undubitably, the most ghastly 
disease that has as yet played havoc among men: and he 
who can still hear (but man turns now deaf ears to such 
sounds), how in this night of torment and nonsense there 
has rung out the cry of love, the cry of the most passion- 
ate ecstasy, of redemption in love, he turns away gripped 


by an invincible horror — in man there is so much that is 
ghastly — too long has the world been a mad-house. 


Let this suffice once for all concerning the origin of the 
"holy God." The fact that in itself the conception of gods 
is not bound to lead necessarily to this degradation of the 
imagination (a temporary representation of whose vagar- 
ies we felt bound to give), the fact that there exist nobler 
methods of utilising the invention of gods than in this 
self-crucifixion and self- degradation of man, in which the 
last two thousand years of Europe have been past mas- 
ters — these facts can fortunately be still perceived from 
every glance that we cast at the Grecian gods, these mir- 
rors of noble and grandiose men, in which the animal in 
man felt itself deified, and did not devour itself in sub- 
jective frenzy. These Greeks long utilised their gods as 
simple buffers against the "bad conscience"— so that they 
could continue to enjoy their freedom of soul: this, of 
course, is diametrically opposed to Christianity's theory 
of its god. They went very jar on this principle, did these 
splendid and lion-hearted children; and there is no lesser 
authority than that of the Homeric Zeus for making them 
realise occasionally that they are taking life too casually. 
"Wonderful," says he on one occasion — it has to do with 
the case of vEgistheus, a very bad case indeed — 

"Wonderful how they grumble, the mortals against the 


Only jrom us, they presume, comes evil, but in their 

Fashion they, spite of fate, the doom of their own dis- 

Yet the reader will note and observe that this Olympian 
spectator and judge is far from being angry with them 
and thinking evil of them on this score. "How joolisJi they 
are," so thinks he of the misdeeds of mortals — and "folly," 
"imprudence," "a little brain disturbance." and nothing 
more, are what the Greeks, even of the strongest, bravest 
period, have admitted to be the ground of much that is 
evil and fatal. — Folly, not sin, do you understand? . . . 
But even this brain disturbance was a problem — "Come, 
how is it even possible? How could it have really got in 
brains like ours, the brains of men of aristocratic ancestry, 
of men of fortune, of men of good natural endowments, 
of men of the best society, of men of nobility and virtue?" 
This was the question that for century on century the 
aristocratic Greek put to himself when confronted with 
every (to him incomprehensible) outrage and sacrilege 
with which one of his peers had polluted himself. "It 
must be that a god had infatuated him," he would say at 
last, nodding his head. — This solution is typical of the 
(■reeks, . . . accordingly the gods in those times sub- 
served the functions of justifying man to a certain extent 
even in evil— in those days they took upon themselves 
not the punishment, but, what is more noble, the guilt. 


I conclude with three queries, as you will sec. "Is an 


ideal actually set up here, or is one pulled down?" I am 
perhaps asked. . . . But have ye sufficiently asked your- 
selves how dear a payment has the setting up of every 
ideal in the world exacted? To achieve that consumma- 
tion how much truth must always be traduced and mis- 
understood, how many lies must be sanctified, hew much 
conscience has got to be disturbed, how many pounds of 
"God" have got to be sacrificed every time?^ To enable 
a sanctuary to be set up a sanctuary has got to be de- 
stroyed: that is a law — show me an instance where it has 
not been fulfilled! . . . We modern men, we inherit the 
immemorial tradition of vivisecting the conscience, and 
practising cruelty to our animal selves. That is the sphere 
of our most protracted training, perhaps of our artistic 
prowess, at any rate of our dilettantism and our perverted 
taste. Man has for too long regarded his natural pro- 
clivities with an "evil eye," so that eventually they have 
become in his system affiliated to a bad conscience. A 
converse endeavour would be intrinsically feasible — but 
who is strong enough to attempt it? — namely, to affiliate 
to the "bad conscience" all those unnatural proclivities, 
all those transcendental aspirations, contrary to sense, 
instinct, nature, and animalism — in short, all past and 
present ideals, which are all ideals opposed to life, and 
traducing the world. To whom is one to turn nowadays 
with such hopes and pretensions? — It is just the good 
men that we should thus bring about our ears; and in ad- 
dition, as stands to reason, the indolent, the hedgers, the 
vain, the hysterical, the tired. . . . What is more offensive 
or more thoroughly calculated to alienate, than giving any 
hint of the exalted severity with which we treat ourselves? 


And again how conciliatory, how full of love does all the 
world show itself towards us so soon as we do as all the 
world does, and 'iet ourselves go" like all the world. For 
such a consummation we need spirits of different calibre 
than seems really feasible in this age; spirits rendered 
potent through wars and victories, to whom conquest, 
adventure, danger, even pain, have become a need; for 
such a consummation we need habituation to sharp, rare 
air, to winter wanderings, to literal and metaphorical ice 
and mountains; we even need a kind of sublime malice, 
a supreme and most self-conscious insolence of knowledge, 
which is the appanage of great health; we need (to sum- 
marise the awful truth) just this great health'. 

Is this even feasible to-day? . . . But some day, in a 
stronger age than this rotting and introspective present, 
must he in sooth come to us, even the redeemer of great 
love and scorn, the creative spirit, rebounding by the im- 
petus of his own force back again away from every trans- 
cendental plane and dimension, he whose solitude is mis- 
understanded of the people, as though it were a flight 
jrom reality; — while actually it is only his diving, bur- 
rowing, and penetrating into reality, so that when he 
comes again to the light he can at once bring about by 
these means the redemption of this reality; its redemption 
from the curse which the old ideal has laid upon it. This 
man of the future, who in this wise will redeem us from 
the old ideal, as he will from that ideal's necessary corol- 
lary of great nausea, will to nothingness, and Nihilism; 
this tocsin of noon and of the great verdict, which renders 
the will again free, who gives back to the world its goal 
and to man his hope, this Antichrist and Antinihilist, this 


conqueror of God and of Nothingness — he must one day 


But what am I talking of? Enough! Enough? At 
this juncture I have only one proper course, silence: 
otherwise I trespass on a domain open alone to one who 
is younger than I, one stronger, more "future" than I — 
open alone to ZaratJmstra, Zarathustra the godless. 



"Careless, mocking, forceful — so does wisdom wish us: 
she is a woman, and never loves any one but a warrior." 

Thus Spake Zarathustra. 


What is the meaning of ascetic ideals? In artists, 
nothing, or too much; in philosophers and scholars, a kind 
of "flair" and instinct for the conditions most favourable 
to advanced intellectualism; in women, at best an addi- 
tional seductive fascination, a little morbidezza on a fine 
piece of flesh, the angelhood of a fat, pretty animal; in 
physiological failures and whiners (in the majority of 
mortals), an attempt to pose as "too good" for this world, 
a holy form of debauchery, their chief weapon in the bat- 
tle with lingering pain and ennui; in priests, the actual 
priestly faith, their best engine of power, and also the 
supreme authority for power; in saints, finally a pretext 
for hibernation, their novissima gloria cupido, their peace 
in nothingness ("God"), their form of madness. 

but in the very fact that the ascetic ideal has meant so 



much to man, lies expressed the fundamental feature of 
man's will, his horror vacui: he needs a goal — and he will 
sooner will nothingness than not will at all. — Am I not 
understood? — Have I not been understood? — "Certainly 
not, sir?" — Well, let us begin at the beginning. 


What is the meaning of ascetic ideals? Or, to take an 
individual case in regard to which I have often been con- 
sulted, what is the meaning, for example, of an artist like 
Richard Wagner paying homage to chastity in his old 
age? He had always done so, of course, in a certain sense, 
but it was not till quite the end, that he did so in an 
ascetic sense. What is the meaning of this "change of at- 
titude," this radical revolution in his attitude — for that 
was what it was? Wagner veered thereby straight round 
into his own opposite. What is the meaning of an artist 
veering round into his own opposite? At this point 
(granted that we do not mind stopping a little over this 
question), we immediately call to mind the best, strong- 
est, gayest, and boldest period, that there perhaps ever was 
in Wagner's life: that was the period when he was gen- 
uinely and deeply occupied with the idea of "Luther's 
Wedding." Who knows what chance is responsible for 
our now having the Meister singers instead of this wed- 
ding music? And how much in the latter is perhaps just 
an echo of the former? But there is no doubt but that 
the theme would have dealt with the praise of chastity. 
And certainly it would also have dealt with the praise of 
sensuality, and even so, it would seem quite in order, and 


even so, it would have been equally Wagnerian. For 
there is no necessary antithesis between chastity and sen- 
suality: every good marriage, every authentic heart-felt 
love transcends this antithesis. Wagner would, it seems 
to me, have done well to have brought this pleasing reality 
home once again to his Germans, by means of a bold and 
graceful "Luther Comedy," for there were and are among 
the Germans many revilers of sensuality; and perhaps 
Luther's greatest merit lies just in the fact of his having 
had the courage of his sensuality (it used to be called, 
prettily enough, "evangelistic freedom''). But even in 
those cases where that antithesis between chastity and 
sensuality does exist, there has fortunately been for some 
time no necessity for it to be in any way a tragic anti- 
thesis. This should, at any rate, be the case with all be- 
ings who are sound in mind and body, who are far from 
reckoning their delicate balance between "animal" and 
"angel," as being on the face of it one of the principles op- 
posed to existence — the most subtle and brilliant spirits, 
such as Goethe, such as Hafiz, have even seen in this a 
further charm of life. Such "conflicts" actually allure 
one to life. On the other hand, it is only too clear that 
when once these ruined swine are reduced to worshipping 
chastity — and there are such swine — they only see and 
worship in it the antithesis to themselves, the antithesis 
to ruined swine. Oh, what a tragic grunting and eager- 
ness! You can just think of it — they worship that pain- 
ful and superfluous contrast, which Richard Wagner in 
his latter days undoubtedly wished to set to music, and 
to place on the stage! "For what purpose, \or sooth'" 


as we may reasonably ask. What did the swine matter 
to him; what do they matter to us? 

At this point it is impossible to beg the further question 
of what he really had to do with that manly (ah, so un- 
manly) country bumpkin, that poor devil and natural, 
Parsifal, whom he eventually made a Catholic by such 
fraudulent devices. What? Was this Parsifal really 
meant seriously? One might be tempted to suppose the 
contrary, even to wish it — that the Wagnerian Parsifal 
was meant joyously, like a concluding play of a trilogy 
or satyric drama, in which Wagner the tragedian wished to 
take farewell of us, of himself, above all of tragedy, and 
to do so in a manner that should be quite fitting and 
worthy, that is, with an excess of the most extreme and 
flippant parody of the tragic itself, of the ghastly earthly 
seriousness and earthly woe of old — a parody of that most 
crude phase in the unnaturalness of the ascetic ideal, 
that had at length been overcome. That, as I have said, 
would have been quite worthy of a great tragedian; who 
like every artist first attains the supreme pinnacle of his 
greatness when he can look down into himself and his art, 
when he can laugh at himself. Is Wagner's Parsifal his 
secret laugh of superiority over himself, the triumph of 
that supreme artistic freedom and artistic transcendency 
which he has at length attained. We might, I repeat, wish 
it were so, for what can Parsifal, taken seriously, amount 
to? Is it really necessary to see in it (according to an ex- 


pression once used against me) the product of an insane 
hate of knowledge, mind, and flesh? A curse on flesh and 
spirit in one breath of hate? An apostasy and reversion 
to the morbid Christian and obscurantist ideals? And 
finally a self-negation and self-elimination on the part of 
an artist, who till then had devoted all the strength of his 
will to the contrary, namely, the highest artistic expres- 
sion of soul and body. And not only his art; of his life as 
well. Just remember with what enthusiasm Wagner fol- 
lowed in the footsteps of Feuerbach. Feuerbach's motto 
of "healthy sensuality" rang in the ears of Wagner dur- 
ing the thirties and forties of the century, as it did in the 
ears of many Germans (they dubbed themselves "Young 
Germans"), like the word of redemption. Did he event- 
ually change Ids mind on the subject? For it seems at 
any rate that he eventually wished to change his teach- 
ing on that subject . . . and not only is that the case 
with the Parsifal trumpets on the stage: in the melancholy, 
cramped, and embarrassed lucubrations of his later years, 
there are a hundred places in which there are manifesta- 
tions of a secret wish and will, a despondent, uncertain, 
unavowed will to preach actual retrogression, conversion, 
Christianity, medkevalism, and to say to his disciples, 
"All is vanity! Seek salvation elsewhere!" Even the 
"blood of the Redeemer" is once invoked. 

Let me speak out my mind in a case like this, which 
has many painful elements — and it is a typical case: it is 
certainly best to separate an artist from his work so com- 


pletely that he cannot be taken as seriously as his work. 
He is after all merely the presupposition of his work, the 
womb, the soil, in certain cases the dung and manure, on 
which and out of which it grows — and consequently, in 
most cases, something that must be forgotten if the work 
itself is to be enjoyed. The insight into the origin of a 
work is a matter for psychologists and vivisectors, but 
never either in the present or the future for the aesthetes, 
the artists. The author and creator of Parsifal was as 
little spared the necessity of sinking and living himself 
into the terrible depths and foundations of mediaeval soul- 
contrasts, the necessity of a malignant abstraction from 
all intellectual elevation, severity, and discipline, the ne- 
cessity of a kind of mental perversity (if the reader will 
pardon me such a word), as little as a pregnant woman is 
spared the horrors and marvels of pregnancy, which, as I 
have said, must be forgotten if the child is to be enjoyed. 
We must guard ourselves against the confusion, into 
which an artist himself would fall only too easily (to em- 
ploy the English terminology) out of psychological "con- 
tiguity"; as though the artist' himself actually were the 
object which he is able to represent, imagine, and express. 
In point of fact, the position is that even if he conceived 
he were such an object, he would certainly not represent, 
conceive, express it. Homer would not have created an 
Achilles, nor Goethe a Faust, if Homer had been an 
Achilles or if Goethe had been a Faust. A complete and 
perfect artist is to all eternity separated from the "real," 
from the actual ; on the other hand, it will be appreciated 
that he can at times get tired to the point of despair of this 
eternal "unreality" and falseness of his innermost being — 


and that he then sometimes attempts to trespass on to the 
most forbidden ground, on reality, and attempts to have 
real existence. With what success? The success will be 
guessed — it is the typical velleity of the artist; the same 
velleity to which Wagner fell a victim in his old age, and 
for which he had to pay so dearly and so fatally (he lost 
thereby his most valuable friends). But after all, quite 
apart from this velleity, who would not wish emphatically 
for Wagner's own sake that he had taken farewell of us 
and of his art in a different manner, not with a Parsifal, 
but in more victorious, more self-confident, more Wag- 
nerian style — a style less misleading, a style less ambig- 
uous with regard to his whole meaning, less Schopen- 
hauerian, less Nihilistic? . . . 

WTiat, then, is the meaning of ascetic ideals? In the 

case of an artist we are getting to understand their mean- 
ing: Nothing at all . . . or so much that it is as good as 
nothing at all. Indeed, what is the use of them? Our 
artists have for a long time past not taken up a sufficiently 
independent attitude, either in the world or against it, to 
warrant their valuations and the changes in these valua- 
tions exciting interest. At all times they have played the 
valet of some morality, philosophy, or religion, quite apart 
from the fact that unfortunately they have often enough 
been the inordinately supple courtiers of their clients and 
patrons, and the inquisitive toadies of the powers that are 
existing, or even of the new powers to come. To put it at 
the lowest, they always need a rampart, a support, an al- 
ready constituted authority: artists never stand by them- 


selves, standing alone is opposed to their deepest instincts. 
So, for example, did Richard Wagner take, "when the 
time had come," the philosopher Schopenhauer for his 
covering man in front, for his rampart. Who would con- 
sider it even thinkable, that he would have had the courage 
for an ascetic ideal, without the support afforded him by 
the philosophy of Schopenhauer, without the authority of 
Schopenhauer, which dominated Europe in the seventies? 
(This is without consideration of the question whether an 
artist without the milk * of an orthodoxy would have been 
possible at all.) This brings us to the more serious ques- 
tion: What is the meaning of a real philosopher paying 
homage to the ascetic ideal, a really self-dependent intel- 
lect like Schopenhauer, a man and knight with a glance 
of bronze, who has the courage to be himself, who knows 
how to stand alone without first waiting for men who cover 
him in front, and the nods of his superiors? Let us now 
consider at once the remarkable attitude of Schopenhauer 
towards art, an attitude which has even a fascination for 
certain types. For that is obviously the reason why 
Richard Wagner all at once went over to Schopenhauer 
(persuaded thereto, as one knows, by a poet, Herwegh), 
went over so completely that there ensued the cleavage 
of a complete theoretic contradiction between his earlier 
and his later aesthetic faiths — the earlier, for example, 
being expressed in Opera and Drama, the later in the 
writings which he published from 1870 onwards. In par- 
ticular, Wagner from that time onwards (and this is the 
volte-face which alienates us the most) had no scruples 

* An allusion to the celebrated monologue in William Tell. 


about changing his judgment concerning the value and 
position of music itself. What did he care if up to that 
time he had made of music a means, a medium, a 
"woman," that in order to thrive needed an end, a man — 
that is, the drama? He suddenly realised that more could 
be effected by the novelty of the Schopenhauerian theory 
in majoretn musiccc gloriam — that is to say, by means of 
the sovereignty of music, as Schopenhauer understood it; 
music abstracted from and opposed to all the other arts, 
music as the independent art-in-itself, not like the otfc 
arts, affording reflections of the phenomenal world, but 
rather the language of the will itself, speaking straight out 
of the "abyss" as its most personal, original, and direct 
manifestation. This extraordinary rise in the value of 
music (a rise which seemed to grow out of the Schopen- 
hauerian philosophy) was at once accompanied by an un- 
precedented rise in the estimation in which the musician 
himself was held: he became now an oracle, a priest, nay, 
more than a priest, a kind of mouthpiece for the "intrinsic 
essence of things," a telephone from the other world — 
from henceforward he talked not only music, did this ven- 
triloquist of God, he talked metaphysic; what wonder that 
one day he eventually talked ascetic ideals! 


Schopenhauer has made use of the Kantian treatm?nt 
of the aesthetic problem — though he certainly did not re- 
gard it with the Kantian eyes. Kant thought that he 
showed honour to art when he favoured and placed in the 
foreground those of the predicates of the beautiful, which 


constitute the honour of knowledge: impersonality and 
universality. This is not the place to discuss whether this 
was not a complete mistake; all that I wish to emphasise 
is that Kant, just like other philosophers, instead of en- 
visaging the aesthetic problem from the standpoint of the 
experiences of the artist (the creator), has only considered 
art and beauty from the standpoint of the spectator, and 
has thereby imperceptibly imported the spectator himself 
into the idea of the "beautiful"! But if only the philoso- 
phers of the beautiful had sufficient knowledge of this 
"spectator"! — Knowledge of him as a great fact of per- 
sonality, as a great experience, as a wealth of strong and 
most individual events, desires, surprises, and raptures in 
the sphere of beauty! But, as I feared, the contrary was 
always the case. And so we get from our philosophers, 
from the very beginning, definitions on which the lack of 
a subtler personal experience squats like a fat worm of 
crass error, as it does on Kant's famous definition of the 
beautiful. "That is beautiful," says Kant, "which pleases 
without interesting." Without interesting! Compare this 
definition with this other one, made by a real "spectator" 
and "artist" — by Stendhal, who once called the beautiful 
une promesse de bonheur. Here, at any rate, the one 
point which Kant makes prominent in the aesthetic position 
is repudiated and eliminated — le desinteressement. Who 
is right, Kant or Stendhal? When, forsooth, our aesthetes 
never get tired of throwing into the scales in Kant's favour 
the fact that under the magic of beauty men can look at 
even naked female statues "without interest," w T e can 
certainly laugh a little at their expense: — in regard to 
this ticklish point the experiences of artists are more 


''interesting," and at any rate Pygmalion was not neces- 
sarily an "unaesthetic man." Let us think all the better 
of the innocence of our aesthetes, reflected as it is in such 
arguments; let us, for instance, count to Kant's honour 
the country-parson naivete of his doctrine concerning the 
peculiar character of the sense of touch! And here we 
come back to Schopenhauer, who stood in much closer 
neighbourhood to the arts than did Kant, and yet never 
escaped outside the pale of the Kantian definition; how 
was that? The circumstance is marvellous enough: he 
interprets the expression, "without interest," in the most 
personal fashion, out of an experience which must in his 
case have been part and parcel of his regular routine. On 
few subjects does Schopenhauer speak with such certainty 
as on the working of aesthetic contemplation: he says of 
it that it simply counteracts sexual interest, like lupulin 
and camphor; he never gets tired of glorifying this escape 
from the "Life-will" as the great advantage and utility of 
the aesthetic state. In fact, one is tempted to ask if his 
fundamental conception of Will and Idea, the thought that 
there can only exist freedom from the "will" by means of 
"idea," did not originate in a generalisation from this sex- 
ual experience. (In all questions concerning the Schopen- 
hauerian philosophy, one should, by the bye, never lose 
sight of the consideration that it is the conception of a 
youth of twenty-six, so that it participates not only in 
what is peculiar to Schopenhauer's life, but in what is 
peculiar to that special period of his life.) Let us listen, 
for instance, to one of the most expressive among the 
countless passages which he has written in honour of the 
aesthetic state (World as Will and Idea, i. 231); let us 


listen to the tone, the suffering, the happiness, the grati- 
tude, with which such words are uttered: "This is the 
painless state which Epicurus praised as the highest good 
and as the state of the gods; we are during that moment 
freed from the vile pressure of the will, we celebrate the 
Sabbath of the will's hard labour, the wheel of Ixion 
stands still." What vehemence of language! What 
images of anguish and protracted revulsion! How almost 
pathological is that temporal antithesis between "that mo- 
ment" and everything else, the "wheel of Ixion," "the 
hard labour of the will," "the vile pressure of the will." 
But granted that Schopenhauer was a hundred times right 
for himself personally, how does that help our insight into 
the nature of the beautiful? Schopenhauer has described 
one effect of the beautiful, — the calming of the will,— 
but is this effect really normal? As has been mentioned, 
Stendhal, an equally sensual but more happily constituted 
nature than Schopenhauer, gives prominence to another 
effect of the "beautiful." "The beautiful promises hap- 
piness." To him it is just the excitement of the will (the 
"interest") by the beauty that seems the essential fact. 
And does not Schopenhauer ultimately lay himself open to 
the objection, that he is quite wrong in regarding himself 
as a Kantian on this point, that he has absolutely failed 
to understand in a Kantian sense the Kantian definition 
of the beautiful — that the beautiful pleased him as well 
by means of an interest, by means, in fact, of the strong- 
est and most personal interest of all, that of the victim 
of torture who escapes from his torture? — And to come 
back again to our first question, "What is the meaning 
of a philosopher paying homage to ascetic ideals?" We 


get now, at any rate, a first hint; he wishes to escape from 
a torture. 

Let us beware of making dismal faces at the word 
"torture" — there is certainly in this case enough to de- 
duct, enough to discount — there is even something to 
laugh at. For we must certainly not underestimate the 
fact that Schopenhauer, who in practice treated sexuality 
as a personal enemy (including its tool, woman, that 
"instrumentum diaboli"), needed enemies to keep him in 
a good humour; that he loved grim, bitter, blackish-green 
words; that he raged for the sake of raging, out of pas- 
sion; that he would have grown ill, would have become 
a pessimist (for he was not a pessimist, however much he 
wished to be), without his enemies, without Hegel, 
woman, sensuality, and the whole "will for existence" 
"keeping on." Without them Schopenhauer would not 
have "kept on," that is a safe wager; he would have run 
away: but his enemies held him fast, his enemies always 
enticed him back again to existence, his wrath was just 
as theirs was to the ancient Cynics, his balm, his recrea- 
tion, his recompense, his remcd'nim against disgust, his 
liappiness. So much with regard to what is most per- 
sonal in the case of Schopenhauer; on the other ha 
there is still much which is typical in him — and only now 
we come back to our problem. It is an accepted and 
indisputable fact, so long as there are philosophers in 
the world, and wherever philosophers have existed (from 
India to England, to take the opposite poles of philo- 


sophic ability), that there exists a real irritation and 
rancour on the part of philosophers towards sensuality. 
Schopenhauer is merely the most eloquent, and if one has 
the ear for it, also the most fascinating and enchanting 
outburst. There similarly exists a real philosophic bias 
and affection for the whole ascetic ideal; there should be 
no illusions on this score. Both these feelings, as has been 
said, belong to the type; if a philosopher lacks both of 
them, then he is — you may be certain of it — never any- 
thing but a "pseudo." What does this mean? For this 
state of affairs must first be interpreted: in itself it stands 
there stupid to all eternity, like any "Thing-in-itself." 
Every animal, including la bete philosophe, strives in- 
stinctively after an optimum of favourable conditions, un- 
der which he can let his whole strength have play, and 
achieves his maximum consciousness of power; with equal 
instinctiveness, and with a fine perceptive flair which is 
superior to any reason, every animal shudders mortally 
at every kind of disturbance and hindrance which ob- 
structs or could obstruct his way to that optimum (it is 
not his way to happiness of which I am talking, but his 
way to power, to action, the most powerful action, and 
in point of fact in many cases his way to unhappiness) . 
Similarly, the philosopher shudders mortally at marriage, 
together with all that could persuade him to it — marriage 
as a fatal hindrance on the way to the optimum. Up to 
the present what great philosophers have been married? 
Heracleitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, 
Schopenhauer — they were not married, and, further, one 
cannot imagine them as married. A married philosopher 
belongs to comedy, that is my rule; as for that exception 


of a Socrates — the malicious Socrates married himself, it 
seems, ironice, just to prove this very rule. Every philoso- 
pher would say, as Buddha said, when the birth of a son 
was announced to him: "Rahoula has been born to me, 
a fetter has been forged for me" (Rahoula means here 
"a little demon") ; there must come an hour of reflection 
to every "free spirit" (granted that he has had previ- 
ously an hour of thoughtlessness), just as one came once 
to the same Buddha: "Narrowly cramped," he reflected, 
"is life in the house; it is a place of uncleanness; freedom 
is found in leaving the house." Because he thought like 
this, he left the house. So many bridges to independence 
are shown in the ascetic ideal, that the philosopher can- 
not refrain from exultation and clapping of hands when 
he hears the history of all those resolute ones, who on one 
day uttered a nay to all servitude and went into some 
desert; even granting that they were only strong asses, 
and the absolute opposite of strong minds. What, then, 
does the ascetic ideal mean in a philosopher? This is my 
answer — it will have been guessed long ago: when he sees 
this ideal the philosopher smiles because he sees therein 
an optimum of the conditions of the highest and boldest 
intellectuality; he does not thereby deny '"existence," he 
rather affirms thereby his existence and only his existence, 
and this perhaps to the point of not being far off the 
blasphemous wish, pereat mundus, fiat philosophia, fiat 
pJrilosophus, fiaml . . . 


These philosophers, you see, are by no means uncor- 


rupted witnesses and judges of the value of the ascetic 
ideal. They think of themselves — what is the "saint" to 
them? They think of that which to them personally is 
most indispensable; of freedom from compulsion, disturb- 
ance, noise; freedom from business, duties, cares; of a 
clear head; of the dance, spring, and flight of thoughts; of 
good air — rare, clear, free, dry, as is the air on the 
heights, in which every animal creature becomes more in- 
tellectual and gains wings; they think of peace in every 
cellar; all the hounds neatly chained; no baying of enmity 
and uncouth rancour; no remorse of wounded ambition; 
quiet and submissive internal organs, busy as mills, but 
unnoticed; the heart alien, transcendent, future, posthu- 
mous — to summarise, they mean by the ascetic ideal the 
joyous asceticism of a deified and newly fledged animal, 
sweeping over life rather than resting. We know what 
are the three great catch- words of the ascetic ideal: pov- 
erty, humility, chastity; and now just look closely at the 
life of all the great fruitful inventive spirits — you will 
always find again and again these three qualities up to a 
certain extent. Not for a minute, as is self-evident, as 
though, perchance, they were part of their virtues — what 
has this type of man to do with virtues — but as the most 
essential and natural conditions of their best existence, 
their finest fruitfulness. In this connection it is quite pos- 
sible that their predominant intellectualism had first to 
curb an unruly and irritable pride, or an insolent sensual- 
ism, or that it had all its work cut out to maintain its 
wish for the "desert" against perhaps an inclination to 
luxury and dilettantism, or similarly against an extrava- 
gant liberality of heart and hand. But their intellect did 


effect all this, simply because it was the dominant instinct, 
which carried through its orders in the case of all the 
other instincts. It effects it still: if it ceased to do so, it 
■would simply not be dominant. But there is not one iota 
of "virtue" in all this. Further, the desert, of which I 
just spoke, in which the strong, independent, and well- 
equipped spirits retreat into their hermitage — oh, how 
different is it from the cultured classes' dream of a desert! 
In certain cases, in fact, the cultured classes themselves 
are the desert. And it is certain that all the actors of 
the intellect would not endure this desert for a minute. 
It is nothing like romantic and Syrian enough for them, 
nothing like enough of a stage desert! Here as well there 
are plenty of asses, but at this point the resemblance 
ceases. But a desert nowadays is something like this — 
perhaps a deliberate obscurity; a getting-out-of the way 
of one's self; a fear of noise, admiration, papers, influence; 
a little office, a daily task, something that hides rather 
than brings to light; sometimes associating with harmless, 
cheerful beasts and fowls, the sight of which refreshes; a 
mountain for company, but not a dead one, one with eyes 
(that is, with lakes) ; in certain cases even a room in a 
crowded hotel where one can reckon on not being recog- 
nised, and on being able to talk with impunity to every 
one: here is the desert — oh, it is lonely enough, believe 
me! I grant that when Heracleitus retreated to the courts 
and cloisters of the colossal temple of Artemis, that 
"wilderness" was worthier; why do we lack such temples? 
(perchance we do not lack them: I just think of my 
splendid study in the Piazza di San Marco, in spring, of 
course, and in the morning, between ten and twelve). 


But that which Heracleitus shunned is still just what we 
too avoid nowadays: the noise and democratic babble of 
the Ephesians, their politics, their news from the "empire" 
(I mean, of course, Persia), their market-trade in "the 
things of to-day" — for there is one thing from which we 
philosophers especially need a rest — from the things of 
"to-day." We honour the silent, the cold, the noble, the 
far, the past, everything, in fact, at the sight of which 
the soul is not bound to brace itself up and defend itself 
— something with which one can speak without speaking 
aloud. Just listen now to the tone a spirit has when it 
speaks; every spirit has its own tone and loves its own 
tone. That thing yonder, for instance, is bound to be an 
agitator, that is, a hollow head, a hollow mug: whatever 
may go into him, everything comes back from him dull 
and thick, heavy with the echo of the great void. That 
spirit yonder nearly always speaks hoarse: has he, per- 
chance, thought himself hoarse? It may be so — ask the 
physiologists — but he who thinks in words, thinks as a 
speaker and not as a thinker (it shows that he does not 
think of objects or think objectively, but only of his rela- 
tions with objects — that, in point of fact, he only thinks 
of himself and his audience). This third one speaks 
aggressively, he comes too near our body, his breath 
blows on us — we shut our mouth involuntarily, although 
he speaks to us through a book: the tone of his style 
supplies the reason — he has no time, he has small faith 
in himself, he finds expression now or never. But a spirit 
who is sure of himself speaks softly; he seeks secrecy, he 
lets himself be awaited. A philosopher is recognised by 
the fact that he shuns three brilliant and noisy things — 


fame, princes, and women: which is not to say that they 
do not come to him. He shuns every glaring light: 
therefore he shuns his time and its "daylight." Therein 
he is as a shadow; the deeper sinks the sun, the greater 
grows the shadow. As for his humility, he endures, as he 
endures darkness, a certain dependence and obscurity: 
further, he is afraid of the shock of lightning, he shudders 
at the insecurity of a tree which is too isolated and too 
exposed, on which every storm vents its temper, every 
temper its storm. His "maternal" instinct, his secret love 
for that which grows in him, guides him into states where 
he is relieved from the necessity of taking care of himself, 
in the same way in which the "mother" instinct in woman 
has thoroughly maintained up to the present woman's 
dependent position. After all, they demand little enough, 
do these philosophers, their favourite motto is, "He who 
possesses is possessed." All this is not, as I must say 
again and again, to be attributed to a virtue, to a meri- 
torious wish for moderation and simplicity: but because 
their supreme lord so demands of them, demands wisely 
and inexorably; their lord who is eager only for one thing, 
for which alone he musters, and for which alone he hoards 
everything — time, strength, love, interest. This kind of 
man likes not to be disturbed by enmity, he likes not to 
be disturbed by friendship, it is a type which forgets or 
despises easily. It strikes him as bad form to play the 
martyr, "to suffer for truth" — he leaves all that to the 
ambitious and to the stage-heroes of the intellect, and to 
all those, in fact, who have time enough for such luxuries 
(they themselves, the philosophers, have something to do 
for truth). They make a sparing use of big words; they 


are said to be adverse to the word "truth" itself: it has a 
"high falutin' " ring. Finally, as far as the chastity ot 
philosophers is concerned, the fruitfulness of this type of 
mind is manifestly in another sphere than that of chil- 
dren; perchance in some other sphere, too, they have the 
survival of their name, their little immortality (philoso- 
phers in ancient India would express themselves with still 
greater boldness: "Of what use is posterity to him whose 
soul is the world?"). In this attitude there is not a trace 
of chastity, by reason of any ascetic scruple or hatred of 
the flesh, any more than it is chastity for an athlete or a 
jockey to abstain from women; it is rather the will of the 
dominant instinct, at any rate, during the period of their 
advanced philosophic pregnancy. Every artist knows the 
harm done by sexual intercourse on occasions of great 
mental strain and preparation; as far as the strongest 
artists and those with the surest instincts are concerned, 
this is not necessarily a case of experience — hard experi- 
ence — but it is simply their "maternal" instinct which, in 
order to benefit the growing work, disposes recklessly 
(beyond all its normal stocks and supplies) of the vigour 
of its animal life; the greater power then absorbs the 
lesser. Let us now apply this interpretation to gauge cor- 
rectly the case of Schopenhauer, which we have already 
mentioned: in his case, the sight of the beautiful acted 
manifestly like a resolving irritant on the chief power of 
his nature (the power of contemplation and of intense 
penetration) ; so that this strength exploded and became 
suddenly master of his consciousness. But this by no 
means excludes the possibility of that particular sweet- 
ness and fulness, which is peculiar to the aesthetic state, 


springing directly from the ingredient of sensuality (just 
as that "idealism" which is peculiar to girls at puberty 
originates in the same source) — it may be, consequently, 
that sensuality is not removed by the approach of the 
aesthetic state, as Schopenhauer believed, but merely be- 
comes transfigured, and ceases to enter into the conscious- 
ness as sexual excitement. (I shall return once again to 
this point in connection with the more delicate problems 
of the physiology of the (esthetic, a subject which up to 
the present has been singularly untouched and uneluci- 

A certain asceticism, a grimly gay whole-hearted renun- 
ciation, is, as we have seen, one of the most favourable 
conditions for the highest intellectualism, and, conse- 
quently, for the most natural corollaries of such intel- 
lectualism: we shall therefore be proof against any sur- 
prise at the philosophers in particular always treating the 
ascetic ideal with a certain amount of predilection. A 
serious historical investigation shows the bond between 
the ascetic ideal and philosophy to be still much tighter 
and still much stronger. It may be said that it was only 
in the leading strings of this ideal that philosophy really 
learnt to make its first steps and baby paces — alas how 
clumsily, alas how crossly, alas how ready to tumble down 
and lie on its stomach was this shy little darling of a 
brat with its bandy legs! The early history of philosophy 
is like that of all good things; — for a long time they had 
not the courage to be themselves, they kept always look- 


ing round to see if no one would come to their help; fur- 
ther, they were afraid of all who looked at them. Just 
enumerate in order the particular tendencies and virtues 
of the philosopher— his tendency to doubt, his tendency 
to deny, his tendency to wait (to be "ephectic"), his 
tendency to analyse, search, explore, dare, his tendency to 
compare and to equalise, his will to be neutral and ob- 
jective, his will for everything which is "sine ira et 
studio": has it yet been realised that for quite a lengthy 
period these tendencies went counter to the first claims of 
morality and conscience? (To say nothing at all of 
Reason, which even Luther chose to call Frau Kliiglin* 
the sly whore.) Has it been yet appreciated that a phi- 
losopher, in the event of his arriving at self-consciousness, 
must needs feel himself an incarnate "nitimur in vetitum," 
— and consequently guard himself against "his own sen- 
sations," against self -consciousness? It is, I repeat, just 
the same with all good things, on which we now pride 
ourselves; even judged by the standard of the ancient 
Greeks, our whole modern life, in so far as it is not weak- 
ness, but power and the consciousness of power, appears 
pure "Hybris" and godlessness: for the things which are 
the very reverse of those which we honour to-day, have 
had for a long time conscience on their side, and God as 
their guardian. "Hybris" is our whole attitude to nature 
nowadays, our violation of nature with the help of ma- 
chinery, and all the unscrupulous ingenuity of our scien- 
tists and engineers. "Hybris" is our attitude to God, that 
is, to some alleged teleological and ethical spider behind 
the meshes of the great trap of the causal web. Like 

* Mistress Sly. — Tr. 


Charles the Bold in his war with Louis the Eleventh, we 
may say, "je combats Vunivcrsclle araignce , \ "Hybris" is 
our attitude to ourselves — for we experiment with our- 
selves in a way that we would not allow with any animal, 
and with pleasure and curiosity open our soul in our 
living body: what matters now to us the "salvation" of the 
soul? We heal ourselves afterwards: being ill is instruc- 
tive, we doubt it not, even more instructive than being 
well — inoculators of disease seem to us to-day even more 
necessary than any medicine-men and "saviours." There 
is no doubt we do violence to ourselves nowaday.-, we 
crackers of the soul's kernel, we incarnate riddles, who are 
ever asking riddles, as though life were naught else than 
the cracking of a nut; and even thereby must we neces- 
sarily become day by day more and more worthy to be 
asked questions and worthy to ask them, even thereby 
do we perchance also become worthier to — live? 

. . . All good things were once bad thins;?: from 
every original sin has grown an original virtue. Marriage, 
for example, seemed for a long time a sin against the 
rights of the community ; a man formerly paid a fine for 
the insolence of claiming one woman to himself (to this 
phase belongs, for instance, the jus priv. to-day 

still in Cambodia the privilege of the priest, that guardian 
of the "good old customs"). 

The soft, benevolent, yielding, sympathetic feelings — 
eventually valued so highly that they almost became 
"intrinsic values," were for a very long time actually 
despised by their possessors: gentleness was then a sub- 
ject for shame, just as hardness is now (compare B( yond 
Good and Evil, Aph. 260). The submission to law: oh, 


with what qualms of conscience was it that the noble races 
throughout the world renounced the vendetta and gave 
the law power over themselves! Law was long a vetitum, 
a blasphemy, an innovation; it was introduced with force 
like a force, to which men only submitted with a sense of 
personal shame. Every tiny step forward in the world 
was formerly made at the cost of mental and physical 
torture. Nowadays the whole of this point of view — 
"that not only stepping forward, nay, stepping at all, 
movement, change, all needed their countless martyrs," 
rings in our ears quite strangely. I have put it forward 
in the Dawn of Day, Aph. 18. "Nothing is purchased 
more dearly," says the same book a little later, "than the 
modicum of human reason and freedom which is now 
our pride. But that pride is the reason why it is now 
almost impossible for us to feel in sympathy with those 
immense periods of the 'Morality of Custom,' which lie 
at the beginning of the 'world's history,' constituting as 
they do the real decisive historical principle which has 
fixed the character of humanity; those periods, I repeat, 
when throughout the world suffering passed for virtue, 
cruelty for virtue, deceit for virtue, revenge for virtue, 
repudiation of the reason for virtue; and when, con- 
versely, well-being passed current for danger, the desire 
for knowledge for danger, pity for danger, peace for dan- 
ger, being pitied for shame, work for shame, madness for 
divinity, and change for immorality and incarnate cor- 


There is in the same book, Aph. 12, an explanation 


of the burden of unpopularity under which the earliest 
race of contemplative men had to live — despised almost 
as widely as they were first feared! Contemplation first 
appeared on earth in a disguised shape, in an ambiguous 
form, with an evil heart and often with an uneasy head: 
there is no doubt about it. The inactive, brooding, un- 
warlike element in the instincts of contemplative men 
long invested them with a cloud of suspicion: the only 
way to combat this was to excite a definite fear. And 
the old Brahmans, for example, knew to a nicety how to 
do this! The oldest philosophers were well versed in 
giving to their very existence and appearance, meaning, 
firmness, background, by reason whereof men learnt to 
fear them; considered more precisely, they did this from 
an even more fundamental need, the need of inspiring in 
themselves fear and self-reverence. For they found even 
in their own souls all the valuations turned against them- 
selves; they had to fight down every kind of suspicion 
and antagonism against "the philosophic element in them- 
selves." Being men of a terrible age, they did this with 
terrible means: cruelty to themselves, ingenious self- 
mortification — this was the chief method of these ambi- 
tious hermits and intellectual revolutionaries, who were 
obliged to force down the gods and the traditions of their 
own soul, so as to enable themselves to believe in their 
own revolution. I remember the famous story of the 
King Vicvamitra, who, as the result of a thousand years 
of self-martyrdom, reached such a consciousness of power 
and such a confidence in himself that he undertook to 
build a new heaven: the sinister symbol of the oldest 
and newest history of philosophy in the whole world. 


Every one who has ever built anywhere a "new heaven" 
first found the power thereto in his own hell. . . . Let us 
compress the facts into a short formula. The philosophic 
spirit had, in order to be possible to any extent at all, to 
masquerade and disguise itself as one of the previously 
fixed types of the contemplative man, to disguise itself 
as priest, wizard, soothsayer, as a religious man generally: 
the ascetic ideal has for a long time served the philoso- 
pher as a superficial form, as a condition which enabled 
him to exist. ... To be able to be a philosopher he had 
to exemplify the ideal; to exemplify it, he was bound to 
believe in it. The peculiarly etherealised abstraction of 
philosophers, with their negation of the world, their enmity 
to life, their disbelief in the senses, which has been main- 
tained up to the most recent time, and has almost thereby 
come to be accepted as the ideal philosophic attitude — 
this abstraction is the result of those enforced conditions 
under which philosophy came into existence, and con- 
tinued to exist; inasmuch as for quite a very long time 
philosophy would have been absolutely impossible in the 
world without an ascetic cloak and dress, without an 
ascetic self-misunderstanding. Expressed plainly and 
palpably, the ascetic priest has taken the repulsive and 
sinister form of the caterpillar, beneath which and behind 
which alone philosophy could live and slink about. . . . 
Has all that really changed? Has that flamboyant 
and dangerous winged creature, that "spirit" which that 
caterpillar concealed within itself, has it, I say, thanks to 
a sunnier, warmer, lighter world, really and finally flung 
off its hood and escaped into the light? Can we to-day 
point to enough pride, enough daring, enough courage, 


enough self-confidence, enough mental will, enough will 
for responsibility, enough freedom of the will, to enable 
the philosopher to be now in the world really — possible? 


And now, after we have caught sight of the ascetic 
priest, let us tackle our problem. What is the meaning 
of the ascetic ideal? It now first becomes serious — 
vitally serious. We are now confronted with the real 
representatives oj the serious. "What is the meaning of 
all seriousness?" This even more radical question is per- 
chance already on the tip of our tongue: a question, 
fairly, for physiologists, but which we for the time being 
skip. In that ideal the ascetic priest finds not only his 
faith, but also his will, his power, his interest. His right 
to existence stands and falls with that ideal. What won- 
der that we here run up against a terrible opponent (on 
the supposition, of course, that we are the opponents of 
that ideal), an opponent fighting for his life against those 
who repudiate that ideal! ... On the other hand, it is 
from the outset improbable that such a biased attitude 
towards our problem will do him any particular good; 
the ascetic priest himself will scarcely prove the happiest 
champion of his own ideal (on the same principle on 
which a woman usually fails when she wishes to champion 
"woman") — let alone proving the most objective critic 
and judge of the controversy now raised. We shall there- 
fore — so much is already obvious — rather have actually 
to help him to defend himself properly against ourselves, 
than we shall have to fear being too well beaten by him. 


The idea, which is the subject of this dispute, is the 
value of our life from the standpoint of the ascetic priests: 
this life, then (together with the whole of which it is a 
part, "Nature," "the world," the whole sphere of becom- 
ing and passing away), is placed by them in relation to 
an existence of quite another character, which it excludes 
and to which it is opposed, unless it deny its own self: 
in this case, the case of an ascetic life, life is taken as a 
bridge to another existence. The ascetic treats life as a 
maze, in which one must walk backwards till one comes 
to the place where it starts; or he treats it as an error 
which one may, nay must, refute by action: for he de- 
mands that he should be followed; he enforces, where he 
can, his valuation of existence. What does this mean? 
Such a monstrous valuation is not an exceptional case, 
or a curiosity recorded in human history: it is one of the 
most general and persistent facts that there are. The 
reading from the vantage of a distant star of the capital 
letters of our earthly life, would perchance lead to the 
conclusion that the earth was the especially ascetic planet, 
a den of discontented, arrogant, and repulsive creatures, 
who never got rid of a deep disgust of themselves, of the 
world, of all life, and did themselves as much hurt as 
possible out of pleasure in hurting — presumably their one 
and only pleasure. Let us consider how regularly, how 
universally, how practically at every single period the 
ascetic priest puts in his appearance: he belongs to no 
particular race; he thrives everywhere; he grows out of 
all classes. Not that he perhaps bred this valuation by 
heredity and propagated it — the contrary is the case. 
It must be a necessity of the first order which makes 


this species, hostile, as it is, to life, always grow again 
and always thrive again. — Life itself must certainly have 
an interest in the continuance of such a type of self-con- 
tradiction. For an ascetic life is a self-contradiction: 
here rules resentment without parallel, the resentment of 
an insatiate instinct and ambition, that would be master, 
not over some element in life, but over life itself, over 
life's deepest, strongest, innermost conditions; here is an 
attempt made to utilise power to dam the sources of 
power; here does the green eye of jealousy tum even 
against physiological well-being, especially against the 
expression of such well-being, beauty, joy, while a sense 
of pleasure is experienced and sought in abortion, in 
decay, in pain, in misfortune, in ugliness, in voluntary 
punishment, in the exercising, flagellation, and sacrifice of 
the self. All this is in the highest degree paradoxical: 
we are here confronted with a rift that wills itself to be a 
rift, which enjoys itself in this very suffering, and even 
becomes more and more certain of itself, more and more 
triumphant, in proportion as its own presupposition, 
physiological vitality, decreases. "The triumph just in 
the supreme agony": under this extravagant emblem did 
the ascetic ideal fight from of old; in this mystery of 
seduction, in this picture of rapture and torture, it recog- 
nised its brightest light, its salvation, its final victory. 
Crux, nux, lux — it has all these three in one. 


Granted that such an incarnate will for contradiction 
and unnaturalness is induced to philosophise; on what 


will it vent its pet caprice? On that which has been felt 
with the greatest certainty to be true, to be real; it will 
look for error in those very places where the life instinct 
fixes truth with the greatest positiveness. It will, for 
instance, after the example of the ascetics of the Vedanta 
Philosophy, reduce matter to an illusion, and similarly 
treat pain, multiplicity, the whole logical contrast of 
"Subject" and "Object" — errors, nothing but errors! To 
renounce the belief in one's own ego, to deny to one's self 
one's own "reality" — what a triumph! and here already 
we have a much higher kind of triumph, which is not 
merely a triumph over the senses, over the palpable, but 
an infliction of violence and cruelty on reason; and this 
ecstasy culminates in the ascetic self-contempt, the ascetic 
scorn of one's own reason making this decree: there is 
a domain of truth and of life, but reason is specially 
excluded therefrom. ... By the bye, even in the Kantian 
idea of "the intelligible character of things" there remains 
a trace of that schism, so dear to the heart of the ascetic, 
that schism which likes to turn reason against reason; 
in fact, "intelligible character" means in Kant a kind of 
quality in things of which the intellect comprehends so 
much, that for it, the intellect, it is absolutely incom- 
prehensible. After all, let us, in our character of know- 
ers, not be ungrateful towards such determined reversals 
of the ordinary perspectives and values, with which the 
mind had for too long raged against itself with an ap- 
parently futile sacrilege! In the same way the very 
seeing of another vista, the very wishing to see another 
vista, is no little training and preparation of the intellect 
for its eternal "Objectivity" — objectivity being under- 


stood not as "contemplation without interest" (for that is 
inconceivable and nonsensical), but as the ability to have 
the pros and cons in one's power and to switch them on 
and off, so as to get to know how to utilise, for the 
advancement of knowledge, the difference in the per- 
spective and in the emotional interpretations. But let 
us, forsooth, my philosophic colleagues, henceforward 
guard ourselves more carefully against this mythology of 
dangerous ancient ideas, which has set up a "pure, will- 
less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge"; let us guard 
ourselves from the tentacles of such contradictory ideas 
as "pure reason," "absolute spirituality," "knowledge-in- 
itself": — in these theories an eye that cannot be thought 
of is required to think, an eye which ex hypothesi has no 
direction at all, an eye in which the active and inter- 
preting functions are cramped, are absent; those func- 
tions, I say, by means of which "abstract" seeing first 
became seeing something; in these theories consequently 
the absurd and the nonsensical is always demanded of 
the eye. There is only a seeing from a perspective, only 
a "knowing" from a perspective, and the more emotions 
we express over a thing, the more eyes, different eyes, 
we train on the same thing, the more complete will be 
our "idea" of that thing, our "objectivity." But the 
elimination of the will altogether, the switching off of 
the emotions all and sundry, granted that we could do so, 
vvhat! would not that be called intellectual castration? 

But let us turn back. Such a self-contradiction, as 


apparently manifests itself among the ascetics, "Life 
turned against Life," is — so much is absolutely obvious 
— from the physiological and not now from the psycho- 
logical standpoint, simply nonsense. It can only be an 
apparent contradiction; it must be a kind of provisional 
expression, an explanation, a formula, an adjustment, a 
psychological misunderstanding of something, whose real 
nature could not be understood for a long time, and 
whose real essence could not be described; a mere word 
jammed into an old gap of human knowledge. To put 
briefly the facts against its being real: the ascetic ideal 
springs from the prophylactic and self-preservative in- 
stincts which mark a decadent life, which seeks by every 
means in its power to maintain its position and fight for 
its existence; it points to a partial physiological depres- 
sion and exhaustion, against which the most profound and 
intact life-instincts fight ceaselessly with new weapons 
and discoveries. The ascetic ideal is such a weapon: its 
position is consequently exactly the reverse of that which 
the worshippers of the ideal imagine — life struggles in it 
and through it with death and against death; the ascetic 
ideal is a dodge for the preservation of life. An impor- 
tant fact is brought out in the extent to which, as history 
teaches, this ideal could rule and exercise power over 
man, especially in all those places where the civilisation 
and taming of man was completed: that fact is, the dis- 
eased state of man up to the present, at any rate, of the 
man who has been tamed, the physiological struggle of 
man with death (more precisely, with the disgust with 
life, with exhaustion, with the wish for the "end"). The 
ascetic priest is the incarnate wish for an existence of 


another kind, an existence on another plane, — he is, in 
fact, the highest point of this wish, its official ecstasy 
and passion: but it is the very power of this wish which 
is the fetter that binds him here; it is just that which 
makes him into a tool that must labour to create more 
favourable conditions for earthly existence, for existence 
on the human plane — it is with this very power that he 
keeps the whole herd of failures, distortions, abortions, 
unfortunates, sufferers from themselves of every kind, fast 
to existence, while he as the herdsman goes instinctively 
on in front. You understand me already: this ascetic 
priest, this apparent enemy of life, this denier — he actu- 
ally belongs to the really great conservative and affirmative 
forces of life. . . . What does it come from, this diseased 
state? For man is more diseased, more uncertain, more 
changeable, more unstable than any other animal, there 
is no doubt of it — he is the diseased animal : what does it 
spring from? Certainly he has also dared, innovated, 
braved more, challenged fate more than all the other ani- 
mals put together; he, the great experimenter with him- 
self, the unsatisfied, the insatiate, who struggles for the 
supreme mastery with beast, Nature, and gods, he, the 
as yet ever uncompelled, the ever future, who finds no 
more any rest from his own aggressive strength, goaded 
inexorably on by the spur of the future dug into the flesh 
of the present: — how should not so brave and rich an 
animal also be the most endangered, the animal with the 
longest and deepest sickness among all sick animals? 
. . . Man is sick of it, oft enough there are whole epi- 
demics of this satiety (as about 1348, the time of the 
Dance of Death) : but even this very nausea, this tired- 


ness, this disgust with himself, all this is discharged from 
him with such force that it is immediately made into a 
new fetter. His "nay," which he utters to life, brings 
to light as though by magic an abundance of graceful 
"yeas"; even when he wounds himself, this master of 
destruction, of self-destruction, it is subsequently the 
wound itself that forces him to live. 


The more normal is this sickliness in man — and we 
cannot dispute this normality — the higher honour should 
be paid to the rare cases of psychical and physical pow- 
erfulness, the windfalls of humanity, and the more strictly 
should the sound be guarded from that worst of air, the 
air of the sick-room. Is that done? The sick are the 
greatest danger for the healthy; it is not from the strong- 
est that harm comes to the strong, but from the weakest. 
Is that known? Broadly considered, it is not for a min- 
ute the fear of man, whose diminution should be wished 
for; for this fear forces the strong to be strong, to be at 
times terrible— it preserves in its integrity the sound type 
of man. What is to be feared, what does work with a 
fatality found in no other fate, is not the great fear of, 
but the great nausea with, man; and equally so the great 
pity for man. Supposing that both these things were 
one day to espouse each other, then inevitably the maxi- 
mum of monstrousness would immediately come into the 
world — the "last will" of man, his will for nothingness, 
Nihilism. And, in sooth, the way is well paved thereto. 
He who not only has his nose to smell with, but also has 


eves and ears, he sniffs almost wherever he goes to-day 
an air something like that of a mad-house, the air of a 
hospital — I am speaking, as stands to reason, of the cul- 
tured areas of mankind, of every kind of "Europe'' that 
there is in fact in the world. The sick are the great 
danger of man, not the evil, not the "beasts of prey." 
They who are from the outset botched, oppressed, broken, 
those are they, the weakest are they, who most under- 
mine the life beneath the feet of man, who instil the most 
dangerous venom and scepticism into our trust in life, in 
mr.n, in ourselves. Where shall we escape from it, from 
that covert look (from which we carry away a deep 
sadness), from that averted look of him who is misborn 
from the beginning, that look which betrays what such a 
man says to himself — that look which is a groan? "Would 
that I were something else," so groans this look, "but 
there is no hope. I am what I am: how could I get 
away from myself? And, verily — / am sick of myself!" 
On such a soil of self-contempt, a veritable swamp soil, 
grows that weed, that poisonous growth, and all so tiny. 
so hidden, so ignoble, so sugary. Here teem the worms of 
revenge and vindictiveness; here the air reeks of things 
secret and unmentionable; here is ever spun the net of 
the most malignant conspiracy — the conspiracy of the 
sufferers against the sound and the victorious; here is the 
jht of the victorious hated. And what lying so as not 
to acknowledge this hate as hate! What a show of big 
words and attitudes, what an art of "righteous" calumni- 
ation! These abortions! what a noble eloquence gushes 
from their lips! What an amount of sugary, slimy, 
humble submission oozes in their eyes! What do they 


really want? At any rate to represent righteousness, love, 
wisdom, superiority, that is the ambition of these "low- 
est ones," these sick ones! And how clever does such an 
ambition make them! You cannot, in fact, but admire 
the counterfeiter dexterity with which the stamp of virtue, 
even the ring, the golden ring of virtue, is here imitated. 
They have taken a lease of virtue absolutely for them- 
selves, have these weaklings and wretched invalids, there 
is no doubt of it; "We alone are the good, the righteous," 
so do they speak, "we alone are the homines bonce volun- 
tatis." They stalk about in our midst as living re- 
proaches, as warnings to us — as though health, fitness, 
strength, pride, the sensation of power, were really vicious 
things in themselves, for which one would have some day 
to do penance, bitter penance. Oh, how they themselves 
are ready in their hearts to exact penance, how they thirst 
after being hangmen! 

Among them is an abundance of revengeful ones dis- 
guised as judges, who ever mouth the word righteousness 
like a venomous spittle — with mouth, I say, always 
pursed, always ready to spit at everything, which does 
not wear a discontented look, but is of good cheer as it 
goes on its way. Among them, again, is that most loath- 
some species of the vain, the lying abortions, who make a 
point of representing "beautiful souls," and perchance 
of bringing to the market as "purity of heart" their dis- 
torted sensualism swathed in verses and other bandages; 
the species of "self-comforters" and masturbators of their 
own souls. The sick man's will to represent some form 
or other of superiority, his instinct for crooked paths, 
which lead to a tyranny over the healthy — where can it 


not be found, this will to power of the very weakest? 
The sick woman especially: no one surpasses her in re- 
finements for ruling, oppressing, tyrannising. The sick 
woman, moreover, spares nothing living, nothing dead; 
she grubs up again the most buried things (the Bogos 
say, "Woman is a hyena"). Look into the background 
of every family, of every body, of every community: 
everywhere the fight of the sick against the healthy — a 
silent fight for the most part with minute poisoned 
powders, with pin-pricks, with spiteful grimaces of pa- 
tience, but also at times with that diseased pharisaism 
of pure pantomime, which plays for the choice role of 
"righteous indignation." Right into the hallowed cham- 
bers of knowledge can it make itself heard, can this 
hoarse yelping of sick hounds, this, rabid lying and frenzy 
of such "noble" Pharisees (I remind readers, who have 
ears, once more of that Berlin apostle of revenge, Eugen 
Diihring, who makes most disreputable and revolting use 
in all present-day Germany of moral refuse; Diihring, 
the paramount moral blusterer that there is to-day, even 
among his own kidney, the Anti-Semites). They are all 
men of resentment, are these physiological distortions and 
worm-riddled objects, a whole quivering kingdom of bur- 
rowing revenge, indefatigable and insatiable in its out- 
bursts against the happy, and equally so in disguises for 
revenge, in pretexts for revenge: when will they really 
reach their final, fondest, most sublime triumph of re- 
venge? At that time, doubtless, when they succeed in 
pushing their own misery, in fact, all misery, into the 
consciousness of the happy: so that the latter begin one 
day to be ashamed of their happiness, and perchance say 


to themselves when they meet, "It is a shame to be 
happy; there is too much misery!" . . . But there could 
not possibly be a greater and more fatal misunderstanding 
than that of the happy, the fit, the strong in body and 
soul, beginning in this way to doubt their right to hap- 
piness. Away with this "perverse world"! Away with 
this shameful soddenness of sentiment! Preventing the 
sick making the healthy sick — for that is what such a 
soddenness comes to — this ought to be our supreme object 
in the world — but for this it is above all essential that 
the healthy should remain separated from the sick, that 
they should even guard themselves from the look of the 
sick, that they should not even associate with the sick. 
Or may it, perchance, be their mission to be nurses or 
doctors? But they could not mistake and disown their 
mission more grossly — the higher must not degrade itself 
to be the tool of the lower, the pathos of distance must 
to all eternity keep their missions also separate. The 
right of the happy to existence, the right of bells with a 
full tone over the discordant cracked bells, is verily a 
thousand times greater: they alone are the sureties of the 
future, they alone are bound to man's future. What 
they can, what they must do, that can the sick never do, 
should never do! but if they are to be enabled to do what 
only they must do, how can they possibly be free to play 
the doctor, the comforter, the "Saviour" of the sick? 
, . . And therefore good air! good air! and away, at any 
rate, from the neighbourhood of all the madhouses and 
hospitals of civilisation! And therefore good company, 
our own company, or solitude, if it must be so! but away, 
at any rate, from the evil fumes of internal corruption 


and the secret worm-eaten state of the sick! that, for- 
sooth, my friends, we may defend ourselves, at any rate 
for still a time, against the two worst plagues that could 
have been reserved for us — against the great nausea with 
man! against the great pity for man! 


If you have understood in all their depths — and I 
demand that you should grasp them profoundly and 
understand them profoundly — the reasons for the impos- 
sibility of its being the business of the healthy to nurse 
the sick, to make the sick healthy, it follows that you 
have grasped this further necessity — the necessity of doc- 
tors and nurses who themselves are sick. And now we 
have and hold with both our hands the essence of the 
ascetic priest. The ascetic priest must be accepted by us 
as the predestined saviour, herdsman, and champion of the 
sick herd: thereby do we first understand his awful his- 
toric mission. The lordship over sufferers is his kingdom, 
to that points his instinct, in that he finds his own spe- 
cial art, his master-skill, his kind of happiness. He must 
himself be sick, he must be kith and kin to the sick and 
the abortions so as to understand them, so as to arrive 
at an understanding with them; but he must also be 
strong, even more master of himself than of others, im- 
pregnable, forsooth, in his will for power, so as to acquire 
the trust and the awe of the weak, so that he can be 
their hold, bulwark, prop, compulsion, overseer, tyrant, 
god. He has to protect them, protect his herds — against 
whom? Against the healthy, doubtless also against the 


envy towards the healthy. He must be the natural ad- 
versary and scorner of every rough, stormy, reinless, hard, 
violently-predatory health and power. The priest is the 
first form of the more delicate animal that scorns more 
easily than it hates. He will not be spared the waging 
of war with the beasts of prey, a war of guile (of "spirit") 
rather than of force, as is self-evident — he will in cer- 
tain cases find it necessary to conjure up out of himself, 
or at any rate to represent practically a new type of the 
beast of prey — a new animal monstrosity in which the 
polar bear, the supple, cold, crouching panther, and, not 
least important, the fox, are joined together in a trinity 
as fascinating as it is fearsome. If necessity exacts it, 
then will he come on the scene with bearish seriousness, 
venerable, wise, cold, full of treacherous superiority, as 
the herald and mouthpiece of mysterious powers, some- 
times going among even the other kind of beasts of prey, 
determined as he is to sow on their soil, wherever he can, 
suffering, discord, self-contradiction, and only too sure of 
his art, always to be lord of sufferers at all times. He 
brings with him, doubtless, salve and balsam; but before 
he can play the physician he must first wound; so, while 
he soothes the pain which the wound makes, he at the 
same time poisons the wound. Well versed is he in this 
above all things, is this wizard and wild beast tamer, in 
whose vicinity everything healthy must needs become ill, 
and everything ill must needs become tame. He protects, 
in sooth, his sick herd well enough, does this strange 
herdsman; he protects them also against themselves, 
against the sparks (even in the centre of the herd) of 
wickedness, knavery, malice, and all the other ills that 


the plaguey and the sick are heir to; he fights with cun- 
ning, hardness, and stealth against anarchy and against 
the ever imminent break-up inside the herd, where resent- 
ment, that most dangerous blasting-stuff and explosive, 
ever accumulates and accumulates. Getting rid of this 
blasting-stuff in such a way that it does not blow up the 
herd and the herdsman, that is his real feat, his supreme 
utility; if you wish to comprise in the shortest formula 
the value of the priestly life, it would be correct to say 
the priest is the diverter of the course 0} resentment. 
Every sufferer, in fact, searches instinctively for a cause 
of his suffering; to put it more exactly, a doer, — to put 
it still more precisely, a sentient responsible doer, — in 
brief, something living, on which, either actually or in 
effigy, he can on any pretext vent his emotions. For 
the venting of emotions is the sufferer's greatest attempt 
at alleviation, that is to say, stupefaction, his mechanic- 
ally desired narcotic against pain of any kind. It is in 
this phenomenon alone that is found, according to my 
judgment, the real physiological cause of resentment, re- 
venge, and their family is to be found — that is, in a 
demand for the deadening of pain through emotion: this 
cause is generally, but in my view very erroneously, 
looked for in the defensive parry of a bare protective 
principle of reaction, of a "reflex movement" in the case 
of any sudden hurt and danger, after the manner that a 
decapitated frog still moves in order to get away from a 
corrosive acid. But the difference is fundamental. In 
one case the object is to prevent being hurt any more; 
in the other case the object is to deaden a racking, in- 
sidious, nearly unbearable pain by a more violent emotion 


of any kind whatsoever, and at any rate for the time 
being to drive it out of the consciousness— for this pur- 
pose an emotion is needed, as wild an emotion as pos- 
sible, and to excite that emotion some excuse or other is 
needed. "It must be somebody's fault that I feel bad" — 
this kind of reasoning is peculiar to all invalids, and is 
but the more pronounced, the more ignorant they remain 
of the real cause of their feeling bad, the physiological 
cause (the cause may lie in a disease of the nervous 
sympathicus, or in an excessive secretion of bile, or in a 
want of sulphate and phosphate of potash in the blood, 
or in pressure in the bowels which stops the circulation of 
the blood, or in degeneration of the ovaries, and so forth). 
All sufferers have an awful resourcefulness and ingenuity 
in finding excuses for painful emotions; they even enjoy 
their jealousy, their broodings over base actions and ap- 
parent injuries, they burrow through the intestines of their 
past and present in their search for obscure mysteries, 
wherein they will be at liberty to wallow in a torturing 
suspicion and get drunk on the venom of their own 
malice — they tear open the oldest wounds, they make 
themselves bleed from the scars which have long been 
healed, they make evil-doers out of friends, wife, child, 
and everything which is nearest to them. "I suffer: it 
must be somebody's fault" — so thinks every sick sheep. 
But his herdsman, the ascetic priest, says to him, "Quite 
so, my sheep, it must be the fault of some one; but thou 
thyself art that same one, it is all the fault of thyself 
alone — it is* the fault of thyself alone against thyself'': 
that is bold enough, false enough, but one thing is at least 


attained; thereby, as I have said, the course of resent- 
ment is — diverted. 

1 6. 

You can see now what the remedial instinct of life has 
at least tried to effect, according to my conception, 
through the ascetic priest, and the purpose for which he 
had to employ a temporary tyranny of such paradoxical 
and anomalous ideas as "guilt," "sin," "sinfulness," 
"corruption," "damnation." What was done was to make 
the sick harmless up to a certain point, to destroy the 
incurable by means of themselves, to turn the milder 
cases severely on to themselves, to give their resentment 
a backward direction ("man needs but one thing"), and 
to exploit similarly the bad instincts of all sufferers with 
a view to self-discipline, self-surveillance, self-mastery. 
It is obvious that there can be no question at all in the 
case of a "medication" of this kind, a mere emotional 
medication, of any real healing of the sick in the physio- 
logical sense; it cannot even for a moment be asserted 
that in this connection the instinct of life has taken heal- 
ing as its goal and purpose. On the one hand, a kind 
of congestion and organisation of the sick (the word 
"Church" is the most popular name for it) ; on the other, 
a kind of provisional safeguarding of the comparatively 
healthy, the more perfect specimens, the cleavage of a 
rift between healthy and sick — for a long time that was 
all! and it was much! it was very much! 

I am proceeding, as you see, in this essay, from an 
hypothesis which, as far as such readers as I want are 


concerned, does not require to be proved; the hypothesis 
that "sinfulness" in man is not an actual fact, but rather 
merely the interpretation of a fact, of a physiological 
discomfort, — a discomfort seen through a moral religious 
perspective which is no longer binding upon us. The 
fact, therefore, that any one feels "guilty," "sinful," is 
certainly not yet any proof that he is right in feeling so, 
any more than any one is healthy simply because he feels 
healthy. Remember the celebrated witch-ordeals: in 
those days the most acute and humane judges had no 
doubt but that in these cases they were confronted with 
guilt, — the "witches" themselves had no doubt on the 
point, — and yet the guilt was lacking. Let me elaborate 
this hypothesis: I do not for a minute accept the very 
"pain in the soul" as a real fact, but only as an explana- 
tion (a casual explanation) of facts that could not hith- 
erto be precisely formulated; I regard it therefore as 
something as yet absolutely in the air and devoid of scien- 
tific cogency — just a nice fat word in the place of a lean 
note of interrogation. When any one fails to get rid of 
ihis "pain in the soul," the cause is, speaking crudely, 
to be found not in his "soul" but more probably in his 
stomach (speaking crudely, I repeat, but by no means 
wishing thereby that you should listen to me or under- 
stand me in a crude spirit). A strong and well-consti- 
tuted man digests his experiences (deeds and misdeeds all 
included) just as he digests his meats, even when he has 
some tough morsels to swallow. If he fails to "relieve 
himself" of an experience, this kind of indigestion is quite 
as much physiological as the other indigestion — and 
indeed, in more ways than one, simply one of the results 


of the other. You can adopt such a theory, and yet 
entre nous be nevertheless the strongest opponent of all 


But is he really a physician, this ascetic priest? We 
already understand why we are scarcely allowed to call 
him a physician, however much he likes to feel a "saviour" 
and let himself be worshipped as a saviour.* It is only 
the actual suffering, the discomfort of the sufferer, which 
he combats, not its cause, not the actual state of sick- 
ness — this needs must constitute our most radical objec- 
tion to priestly medication. But just once put yourself 
into that point of view, of which the priests have a 
monopoly, you will find it hard to exhaust your amaze- 
ment, at what from that standpoint he has completely 
seen, sought, and found. The mitigation of suffering, 
every kind of "consoling" — all this manifests itself as his 
very genius: with what ingenuity has he interpreted his 
mission of consoler, with what aplomb and audacity has 
he chosen weapons necessary for the part. Christianity 
in particular should be dubbed a great treasure-chamber 
of ingenious consolations, — such a store of refreshing, 
soothing, deadening drugs has it accumulated within 
itself; so many of the most dangerous and daring ex- 
pedients has it hazarded; with such subtlety, refinement. 
Oriental refinement, has it divined what emotional stimu- 
lants can conquer, at any rate for a time, the deep de- 

* In the German text "Heiland." This has the double mean- 
ing of "healer" and "saviour."— H. B. S. 


pression, the leaden fatigue, the black melancholy of 
physiological cripples — for, speaking generally, all relig- 
ions are mainly concerned with fighting a certain fatigue 
and heaviness that has infected everything. You can 
regard it as prima facie probable that in certain places 
in the world there was almost bound to prevail from time 
to time among large masses of the population a sense of 
physiological depression, which, however, owing to their 
lack of physiological knowledge, did not appear to their 
consciousness as such, so that consequently its "cause" 
and its cure can only be sought and essayed in the science 
of moral psychology (this, in fact, is my most general 
formula for what is generally called a "religion"). Such 
a feeling of depression can have the most diverse origins; 
it may be the result of the crossing of too heterogeneous 
races (or of classes— genealogical and racial differences 
are also brought out in the classes: the European "Welt- 
schmerz," the "Pessimism" of the nineteenth century, is 
really the result of an absurd and sudden class-mixture) ; 
it may be brought about by a mistaken emigration — a 
race falling into a climate for which its power of adapta- 
tion is insufficient (the case of the Indians in India) ; it 
may be the effect of old age and fatigue (the Parisian 
pessimism from 1850 onwards) ; it may be a wrong diet 
(the alcoholism of the Middle Ages, the nonsense of vege- 
tarianism — which, however, have in their favour the 
authority of Sir Christopher in Shakespeare) ; it may be 
blood-deterioration, malaria, syphilis, and the like (Ger- 
man depression after the Thirty Years' War, which in- 
fected half Germany with evil diseases, and thereby paved 
the way for German servility, for German pusillanimity) . 


In such a case there is invariably recourse to a ivar on a 
grand scale with the feeling of depression; let us inform 
ourselves briefly on its most important practices and 
phases (I leave on one side, as stands to reason, the 
actual philosophic war against the feeling of depression 
which is usually simultaneous — it is interesting enough, 
but too absurd, too practically negligible, too full of cob- 
webs, too much of a hole-and-corner affair, especially 
when pain is proved to be a mistake, on the naif hypothe- 
sis that pain must needs vanish when the mistake under- 
lying it is recognised — but behold! it does anything but 
vanish . . .)• That dominant depression is primarily 
jought by weapons which reduce the consciousness of life 
itself to the lowest degree. Wherever possible, no more 
wishes, no more wants; shun everything which produces 
emotion, which produces "blood" (eating no salt, the 
fakir hygiene); no love; no hate; equanimity; no re- 
venge; no getting rich; no work; begging! as far as pos- 
sible, no woman, or as little woman as possible; as far 
as the intellect is concerned, Pascal's principle, "il jaut 
s'abetir." To put the result in ethical and psychological 
language, "self-annihilation," "sanctification"; to put it in 
physiological language, "hypnotism" — the attempt to find 
some approximate human equivalent for what hibernation 
is for certain animals, for what (estivation is for many 
tropical plants, a minimum of assimilation and metab- 
olism in which life just manages to subsist without r£ally 
coming into the consciousness. An amazing amount of 
human energy has been devoted to this object — perhaps 
uselessly? There cannot be the slightest doubt but that 
such sportsmen of "saintliness," in whom at times nearly 


every nation has abounded, have really found a genuine 
relief from that which they have combated with such a 
rigorous training — in countless cases they really escaped 
by the help of their system of hypnotism away from deep 
physiological depression; their method is consequently 
counted among the most universal ethnological facts. 
Similarly it is improper to consider such a plan for starv- 
ing the physical element and the desires, as in itself a 
symptom of insanity (as a clumsy species of roast-beef- 
eating "freethinkers" and Sir Christophers are fain to do) ; 
all the more certain is it that their method can and does 
pave the way to all kinds of mental disturbances, for in- 
stance, "inner lights" (as far as the case of Hesychasts 
of Mount Athos), auditory and visual hallucinations, 
voluptuous ecstasies and effervescences of sensualism (the 
history of St. Theresa). The explanation of such events 
given by the victims is always the acme of fanatical false- 
hood; this is self-evident. Note well, however, the tone 
of implicit gratitude that rings in the very will for an 
explanation of such a character. The supreme state, sal- 
vation itself, that final goal of universal hypnosis and 
peace, is always regarded by them as the mystery of 
mysteries, which even the most supreme symbols are 
inadequate to express; it is regarded as an entry and 
homecoming to the essence of things, as a liberation from 
all illusions, as "knowledge," as "truth," as "being," as 
an escape from every end, every wish, every action, as 
something even beyond Good and Evil. 

"Good and Evil," quoth the Buddhists, "both are 
fetters. The perfect man is master of them both." 

"The done and the undone," quoth the disciple of the 


Vedanta, "do him no hurt; the good and the evil he 
shakes from off him, sage that he is; his kingdom suffers 
no more from any act; good and evil, he goes beyond 
them both." — An absolutely Indian conception, as much 
Brahmanist as Buddhist. Neither in the Indian nor in 
the Christian doctrine is this "Redemption" regarded as 
attainable by means of virtue and moral improvement, 
however, high they may place the value of the hypnotic 
efficiency of virtue: keep clear on this point — indeed it 
simply corresponds with the facts. The fact that they 
remained true on this point is perhaps to be regarded 
as the best specimen of realism in the three great religions, 
absolutely soaked as they are with morality, with this one 
exception. "For those who know, there is no duty." 
"Redemption is not attained by the acquisition of virtues; 
for redemption consists in being one with Brahman, who 
is incapable of acquiring any perfection; and equally little 
does it consist in the giving up of faults, for the Brahman, 
unity with whom is what constitutes redemption, is eter- 
nally pure" (these passages are from the Commentaries 
of the Cankara, quoted from the first real European 
expert of the Indian philosophy, my friend Paul Deussen). 
We wish, therefore, to pay honour to the idea of "redemp- 
tion" in the great religions, but it is somewhat hard to 
remain serious in view of the appreciation meted out to 
the deep sleep by these exhausted pessmists who are too 
tired even to dream — to the deep sleep considered, that 
is, as already a fusing into Brahman, as the attainment of 
the unio mystica with God. "When he has completely 
gone to sleep," says on this point the oldest and most 
venerable "script," "and come to perfect rest, so that 


1 sees no more any vision, then, oh dear one, is he united 
ith Being, he has entered into his own self — encircled by 
le Self with its absolute knowledge, he has no more any 
msciousness of that which is without or of that which 
within. Day and night cross not these bridges, nor 
ge, nor death, nor suffering, nor good deeds, nor evil 
eeds." "In deep sleep," say similarly the believers in 
lis deepest of the three great religions, "does the soul 
lit itself from out this body of ours, enters the supreme 
.ght and stands out therein in its true shape: therein is it 
he supreme spirit itself, which travels about, while it 
ests and plays and enjoys itself, whether with women, or 
:hariots, or friends; there do its thoughts turn no more 
>ack to this appanage of a body, to which the 'prana' 
'the vital breath) is harnessed like a beast of burden 
:o the cart." None the less we will take care to realise 
(as we did when discussing "redemption") that in spite 
of all its pomps of Oriental extravagance this simply ex- 
presses the same criticism on life as did the clear, cold, 
Greekly cold, but yet suffering Epicurus. The hypnotic 
sensation of nothingness, the peace of deepest sleep, 
anaesthesia in short — that is what passes with the suf- 
ferers and the absolutely depressed for, forsooth, their 
supreme good, their value of values ; that is what must be 
treasured by them as something positive, be felt by them 
as the essence of the Positive (according to the same 
logic of the feelings, nothingness is in all pessimistic 
religions called God). 


Such a hypnotic deadening of sensibility and suscep- 


tibility to pain, which presupposes somewhat rare powers, 
especially courage, contempt of opinion, intellectual 
stoicism, is less frequent than another and certainly easier 
framing which is tried against states of depression. I 
mean mechancal activity. It is indisputable that a suf- 
fering existence can be thereby considerably alleviated. 
This fact is called to-day by the somewhat ignoble title 
of the "Blessing of work." The alleviation consists in the 
attention of the sufferer being absolutely diverted from 
suffering, in the incessant monopoly of the consciousness 
by action, so that consequently there is little room left for 
suffering — for narrow is it, this chamber of human con- 
sciousness! Mechanical activity and its corollaries, such 
as absolute regularity, punctilious unreasoning obedience, 
the chronic routine of life, the complete occupation of 
time, a certain liberty to be impersonal, nay, a training in 
"impersonality," self-forgetfulness, "incuria sai" — with 
what thoroughness and expert subtlety have all these 
methods been exploited by the ascetic priest in his war 
with pain! 

When he has to tackle sufferers of the lower orders, 
slaves, or prisoners (or women, who for the most part are 
a compound of labour-slave and prisoner), all he has to 
do is to juggle a little with the names, and to rechristen, 
so as to make them see henceforth a benefit, a compara- 
tive happiness, in objects which they hated — the slave's 
discontent with his lot was at any rate not invented by 
the priests. An even more popular means of fighting 
depression is die ordaining of a little joy, which is easily 
accessible and can be made into a rule; this medication is 
frequently used in conjunction with the former ones. The 


most frequent form in which joy is prescribed as a cure 
is the joy in producing joy (such as doing good, giving 
presents, alleviating, helping, exhorting, comforting, prais- 
ing, treating with distinction) ; together with the prescrip- 
tion of "love your neighbour." The ascetic priest pre- 
scribes, though in the most cautious doses, what is prac- 
tically a stimulation of the strongest and most life- 
assertive impulse — the Will for Power. The happiness 
involved in the "smallest superiority" which is the con- 
comitant of all benefiting, helping, extolling, making one's 
self useful, is the most ample consolation, of which, if 
they are well-advised, physiological distortions avail them- 
selves: in other cases they hurt each other, and naturally 
in obedience to the same radical instinct. An investiga- 
tion of the origin of Christianity in the Roman world 
shows that co-operative unions for poverty, sickness, and 
burial sprang up in the lowest stratum of contemporary 
society, amid which the chief antidote against depression, 
the little joy experienced in mutual benefits, was delib- 
erately fostered. Perchance this was then a novelty, a 
real discovery? This conjuring up of the will for co- 
operation, for family organisation, for communal life, for 
"Coznacula," necessarily brought the Will for Power, 
which had been already infinitesimally stimulated, to a 
new and much fuller manifestation. The herd organisa- 
tion is a genuine advance and triumph in the fight with 
depression. With the growth of the community there 
matures even to individuals a new interest, which often 
enough takes him out of the more personal element in 
his discontent, his aversion to himself, the "despectus 
sui" of Geulincx. All sick and diseased people strive 


instinctively after a herd-organisation, out of a desire to 
shake off their sense of oppressive discomfort and weak- 
ness; the ascetic priest divines this instinct and promotes 
it; wherever a herd exists it is the instinct of weakness 
which has wished for the herd, and the cleverness of the 
priests which has organised it, for, mark this: by an 
equally natural necessity the strong strive as much for 
isolation as the weak for union: when the former bind 
themselves it is only with a view to an aggressive joint 
action and joint satisfaction of their Will for Power, much 
against the wishes of their individual consciences; the 
latter, on the contrary, range themselves together with 
positive delimit in such a muster — their instincts are as 
much gratified thereby as the instincts of the "born mas- 
ter" (that is, the solitary beast-of-prey species of man) 
are disturbed and wounded to the quick by organisation. 
There is always lurking beneath every oligarchy— such is 
the universal lesson of history — the desire for tyranny. 
Every oligarchy is continually quivering with the tension 
of the effort required by each individual to keep master- 
ing this desire. (Such, e.g., was the Greek; Plato shows 
it in a hundred places, Plato, who knew his contempo- 
raries — and himself.) 


The methods employed by the ascetic priest, which we 
have already leamt to know— stifling of all vitality, me- 
chanical energy, the little joy, and especially the method 
of "love your neighbour" herd-organisation, the awaking 
of the communal consciousness of power, to such a pitch 


that the individual's disgust with himself becomes eclipsed 
by his delight in the thriving of the community — these 
are, according to modern standards, the "innocent" 
methods employed in the fight with depression; let us 
turn now to the more interesting topic of the "guilty" 
methods. The guilty methods spell one thing: to produce 
emotional excess — which is used as the most efficacious 
anaesthetic against their depressing state of protracted 
pain; this is why priestly ingenuity has proved quite inex- 
haustible in thinking out this one question: "By what 
means can you produce an emotional excess?" This 
sounds harsh: it is manifest that it would sound nicer 
and would grate on one's ears less, if I were to say, 
forsooth: "The ascetic priest made use at all times of 
the enthusiasm contained in all strong emotions." But 
what is the good of still soothing the delicate ears of our 
modern effeminates? What is the good on our side of 
budging one single inch before their verbal Pecksniffian- 
ism? For us psychologists to do that would be at once 
practical Pecksniffianism, apart from the fact of its nau- 
seating us. The good taste (others might say, the right- 
eousness) of a psychologist nowadays consists, if at all, in 
combating the shamefully moralised language with which 
all modern judgments on men and things are smeared. 
For, do not deceive yourself: what constitutes the chief 
characteristic of modern souls and of modern books is not 
the lying, but the innocence which is part and parcel of 
their intellectual dishonesty. The inevitable running up 
against this "innocence" everywhere constitutes the most 
distasteful feature of the somewhat dangerous business 
which a modern psychologist has to undertake: it is a 


part of our great danger — it is a road which perhaps leads 
straight to the great nausea— I know quite well the 
purpose which all modern books will and can serve 
(granted that they last, which I am not afraid of, and 
snted equally that there is to be at some future day a 
L'rneration with a more rigid, more severe, and healthier 
taste) — the junction which all modernity generally will 
serve with posterity: that of an emetic, — and this by 
reason of its moral sugariness and falsity, its ingrained 
feminism, which it is pleased to call "Idealism," and at 
any rate believes to be idealism. Our cultured men of 
to-day, our "good" men, do not lie — that is true; but it 
doe? not redound to their honour! The real lie, the gen- 
uine, determined, "honest" lie (on whose value you can 
listen to Plato) would prove too tough and strong an 
article for them by a long way; it would be asking them 
to do what people have been forbidden to ask them to do, 
to open their eyes to their own selves, and to learn to 
distinguish between "true" and "false" in their own 
selves. The dishonest lie alone suits them: everything 
which fools a good man is perfectly incapable of any other 
attitude to anything than that of a dishonourable liar, an 
absolute liar, but none the less an innocent liar, a blue- 
eyed liar, a virtuous liar. These "good men," they are all 
now tainted with morality through and through, and as 
far as honour is concerned they are disgraced and cor- 
rupted for all eternity. Which of them could stand a 
further truth "about man"? or, put more tangibly, which 
<>f them could put up with a true biography? One or 
: ;.inces: Lord Byron composed a most personal 
autobiography, but Thomas Moore was "too good" for 


it; he burnt his friend's papers. Dr. G winner, Schopen- 
hauer's executor, is said to have done the same; for 
Schopenhauer as well wrote much about himself, and 
perhaps also against himself (sis eauxov). The virtuous 
American Thayer, Beethoven's biographer, suddenly 
stopped his work: he had come to a certain point in that 
honourable and simple life, and could stand it no longer. 
Moral: What sensible man nowadays writes one honest 
word about himself? He must already belong to the 
Order of Holy Foolhardiness. We are promised an auto- 
biography of Richard Wagner; who doubts but that it 
would be a clever autobiography? Think, forsooth, of 
the grotesque horror which the Catholic priest Janssen 
aroused in Germany with his inconceivably square and 
harmless pictures of the German Reformation; what 
wouldn't people do if some real psychologist were to 
tell us about a genuine Luther, tell us, not with the 
moralist simplicity of a country priest or the sweet and 
cautious modesty of a Protestant historian, but say 
with the fearlessness of a Taine, that springs from force 
of character and not from a prudent toleration of force. 
(The Germans, by the bye, have already produced the 
classic specimen of this toleration — they may well be 
allowed to reckon him as one of their own, in Leopold 
Ranke, that born classical advocate of every causa jortior, 
that cleverest of all the clever opportunists.) 


But you will soon understand me. — Putting it shortly, 
there is reason enough, is there not, for us psychologists 


nowadays never to get away from a certain mistrust of 
uur (i; es? Probably even we ourselves are still 

"too good" for our work; probably, whatever contempt 
we feel for this popular craze for morality, we ourselves 
are perhaps none the less its victims, prey, and slaves; 
probably it infects even us. Of what was that diplomat 
warning us, when he said to his colleagues: "Let us 
especially mistrust our first impulses, gentlemen! they 
arc almost always good"? So should nowadays every 
psychologist talk to his colleagues. And thus we get 
back to our problem, which in point of fact does require 
from us a certain severity, a certain mistrust especially 
against "first impulses." The ascetic ideal in the service 
of projected emotional excess: — he who remembers the 
previous essay will already partially anticipate the essen- 
tial meaning compressed into these above ten words. 
The thorough unswitching of the human soul, the plung- 
ing of it into terror, frost, ardour, rapture, so as to free 
it, as through some lightning shock, from all the small- 
s and pettiness of unhappiness, depression, and dis- 
comfort: what ways lead to this goal? And which of 
these ways does so most safely? ... At bottom all great 
emotions have this power, provided that they find a 
sudden outlet — emotions such as rage, fear, lust, revenge, 
hope, triumph, despair, cruelty; and, in sooth, the ascetic 
priest has had no scruples in taking into his service the 

k of hounds that rage in the human kennel, 
unle a shin g now these and now those, with the same con- 

ct of waking man out of his protracted melan- 
choly, of chasing away, at any rate for a time, his dull 
lis shrinking misery, but always under the sanction 


»of a religious interpretation and justification. This emo- 
tional excess has subsequently to be paid for, this is self- 
evident — it makes the ill more ill — and therefore this kind 
of remedy for pain is according to modern standards a. 
"guilty" kind. 

The dictates of fairness, however, require that we should 
all the more emphasise the fact that this remedy is ap- 
plied with a good conscience, that the ascetic priest has 
prescribed it in the most implicit belief in its utility and 
indispensability ; — often enough almost collapsing in the 
presence of the pain which he created; — that we should 
similarly emphasise the fact that the violent physiological 
revenges of such excesses, even perhaps the mental dis- 
turbances, are not absolutely inconsistent with the general 
tenor of this kind of remedy; this remedy, which, as we 
have shown previously, is not for the purpose of healing 
diseases, but of fighting the unhappiness of that depres- 
sion, the alleviation and deadening of which was its 
object. The object was consequently achieved. The 
keynote by which the ascetic priest was enabled to get 
every kind of agonising and ecstatic music to play on the 
fibres of the human soul — was, as every one knows, the 
exploitation of the feeling of "guilt." I have already 
indicated in the previous essay the origin of this feeling 
— as a piece of animal psychology and nothing else: we 
were thus confronted with the feeling of "guilt," in its 
crude state, as it were. It was first in the hands of the 
priest, real artist that he was in the feeling of guilt, that 
it took shape— oh, what a shape! 

"Sin" — for that is the name of the new priestly version 
of the animal "bad-conscience" (the inverted cruelty) — 


ip to the present been the greatest event in the his- 
tory of the diseased soul; in "sin" we find the most 
perilous and fatal masterpiece of religious interpretation. 
Imagine man, suffering from himself, some way or other 
but at any rate physiologically, perhaps like an animal 
shut up in a cage, not clear as to the why and the where- 
fore! imagine him in his desire for reasons — reasons bring 
relief — in his desire again for remedies, narcotics at last, 
consulting one, who knows even the occult — and see, lo 
and behold, he gets a hint from his wizard, the ascetic 
priest, his first hint on the "cause" of his trouble: he 
must search for it /';/ liimselj, in his guiltiness, in a piece 
of the past, he must understand his very suffering as a 
state of punishment. He has heard, he has understood, 
has the unfortunate: he is now in the plight of a hen 
round which a line has been drawn. He never gets out 
of the circle of lines. The sick man has been turned into 
"the sinner'' — and now for a few thousand years we 
t away from the sight of this new invalid, of "a 
sinner" — shall we ever get away from it? — wherever we 
just look, everywhere the hypnotic gaze of the sinner 
always moving in one direction (in the direction of guilt, 
the Old i .iuse of suffering) ; everywhere the evil con- 
science, this "greuliche T/iicr,"* to use Luther's language; 
everywhere rumination over the past, a distorted view 
of action, the eaze of the "green-eyed monster" turned on 
all action: everywhere the wilful misunderstanding of 
Buffering, its transvaluation into feelings of guilt, fear of 
retribution; everywhere the scourge, the hairy shirt, the 
starving body, contrition; everywhere the sinner break- 

'1 [orrible b* 


ing himself on the ghastly wheel of a restless and mor- 
bidly eager conscience; everywhere mute pain, extreme 
fear, the agony of a tortured heart, the spasms of an 
unknown happiness, the shriek for "redemption." In 
point of fact, thanks to this system of procedure, the 
old depression, dullness, and fatigue were absolutely con- 
quered, life itself became very interesting again, awake, 
eternally awake, sleepless, glowing, burnt away, exhausted 
and yet not tired — such was the figure cut by man, "the 
sinner," who was initiated into these mysteries. This 
grand old wizard of an ascetic priest fighting with de- 
pression — he had clearly triumphed, his kingdom had 
come: men no longer grumbled at pain, men panted after 
pain: "More pain! More pain!" So for centuries on 
end shrieked the demand of his acolytes and initiates. 
Every emotional excess which hurt; everything which 
broke, overthrew, crushed, transported, ravished; the 
nvystery of torture-chambers, the ingenuity of hell itself — 
all this was now discovered, divined, exploited, all this 
was at the service of the wizard, all this served to pro- 
mote the triumph of his ideal, the ascetic ideal. "My 
kingdom is not of this world," quoth he, both at the be- 
ginning and at the end: had he still the right to talk like 
that? — Goethe has maintained that there are only thirty- 
six tragic situations: we would infer from that, did we 
not know otherwise, that Goethe was no ascetic priest. He 
— knows more. 


So far as all this kind of priestly medicine-mongering,' 


the "guilty" kind, is concerned, every word of criticism 

superfluous. As for the suggestion that emotional 
excess of the type, which in these cases the ascetic priest 
is fain to order to his sick patients (under the most sacred 

.hemism, as is obvious, and equally impregnated with 
the sanctity of his purpose), has ever really been of use 
to any sick man, who, forsooth, would feel inclined to 
maintain a proposition of that character? At any rate, 
some understanding should be come to as to the expres- 
sion "be of use." If you only wish to express that such 
a system of treatment has reformed man, I do not gain- 
say it: I merely add that "reformed" conveys to my mind 
much as "tamed," "weakened," "discouraged," "refined," 
daintified," "emasculated" (and thus it means almost as 
much as injured). But when you have to deal princi- 
pally with sick, depressed, and oppressed creatures, such 
a system, even granted that it makes the ill "better," 
under any circumstances also makes them more ill: ask 
the mad-doctors the invariable result of a methodical 
application of penance-torture, contritions, and salvation 

tasies. Similarly ask history. In every body politic 
where the ascetic priest has established this treatment of 
the sick, disease has on every occasion spread with sin- 
ister speed throughout its length and breadth. What 
was always the "result"? A shattered nervous system, 
in addition to the existing malady, and this in the greatest 

in the smallest, in the individuals as in masses. We 
find, in consequence of the penance and redemption- 
training, awful epileptic epidemics, the greatest known to 
history, such as the St. Vitus and St. John dances of the 


Middle Ages; we find, as another phase of its after- 
effect, frightful mutilations and chronic depressions, by 
means of which the temperament of a nation or a city 
(Geneva, Bale) is turned once for all into its opposite; — 
this training, again, is responsible for the witch-hysteria, 
a phenomenon analogous to somnambulism (eight great 
epidemic outbursts of this only between 1564 and 1605) ; 
— we find similarly in its train those delirious death- 
cravings of large masses, whose awful "shriek," "evviva 
la morte!" was heard over the whole of Europe, now 
interrupted by voluptuous variations and anon by a rage 
for destruction, just as the same emotional sequence with 
the same intermittencies and sudden changes is now uni- 
versally observed in every case where the ascetic doc- 
trine of sin scores once more a great success (religious 
neurosis appears as a manifestation of the devil, there 
is no doubt of it. What is it? Quceritur) . Speaking gen- 
erally, the ascetic ideal and its sublime-moral cult, this 
most ingenious, reckless, and perilous systematisation of 
all methods of emotional excess, is writ large in a dreadful 
and unforgettable fashion on the whole history of man, 
and unfortunately not only on history. I was scarcely 
able to put forward any other element which attacked the 
health and race efficiency of Europeans with more de- 
structive power than did this ideal; it can be dubbed, 
without exaggeration, the real fatality in the history of 
the health of the European man. At the most you can 
merely draw a comparison with the specifically German 
influence: I mean the alcohol poisoning of Europe, which 
up to the present has kept pace exactly with the political 
and racial predominance of the Germans (where they 


inoculated their blood, there too did they inoculate their 
vice). Third in the series cornes syphilis — magno sed 
proximo intcrvallo. 


The ascetic priest has, wherever he has obtained the 
mastery, corrupted the health of the soul, he has conse- 
quently also corrupted taste in artibus et litteris — he 
corrupts it still. "Consequently?" I hope I shall be 
granted this "consequently"; at any rate, I am not going 
to prove it first. One solitary indication, it concerns the 
arch-book of Christian literature, their real model, their 
"book-in-itself." In the very midst of the Grseco-Roman 
splendour, which was also a splendour of books, face to 
face with an ancient world of writings which had not 
yet fallen into decay and ruin, at a time when certain 
books were still to be read, to possess which we would 
give nowadays half our literature in exchange, at that 
time the simplicity and vanity of Christian agitators (they 
are generally called Fathers of the Church) dared to de- 
clare: "We too have our classical literature, we do Jiot 
7icr<! that oj the Greeks" — and meanwhile they proudly 
pointed to their books of legends, their letters of apostles, 
and their apologetic tractlets, just in the same way that 
to-day the English "Salvation Army" wages its fight 
unst Shakespeare and other "heathens" with an analo- 
us literature You already guess it, I do not like the 
restament"; it almost upsets me that I stand so 
isolated in my taste so far as concerns this valued, this 
Blued Scripture; the taste of two thousand years is 


against me; but what boots it! "Here I stand! I can- 
not help myself" * — I have the courage of my bad taste. 
The Old Testament — yes, that is something quite dif- 
ferent, all honour to the Old Testament! I find therein 
great men, an heroic landscape, and one of the rarest 
phenomena in the world, the incomparable naivete of the 
strong heart; further still, I find a people. In the New, 
on the contrary, just a hostel of petty sects, pure rococo 
of the soul, twisting angles and fancy touches, nothing 
but conventicle air, not to forget an occasional whiff of 
bucolic sweetness which appertains to the epoch (and the 
Roman province) and is less Jewish than Hellenistic. 
Meekness and braggadocio cheek by jowl; an emotional 
garrulousness that almost deafens; passionate hysteria, 
but no passion ; painful pantomime ; here manifestly every 
one lacked good breeding. How dare any one make so 
much fuss about their little failings as do these pious 
little fellows! No one cares a straw about it— let alone 
God. Finally they actually wish to have "the crown of 
eternal life," do all these little provincials! In return for 
what, in sooth? For what end? It is impossible to carry 
insolence any further. An immortal Peter! who could 
stand him! They have an ambition which makes one 
laugh: the thing dishes up cut and dried his most personal 
life, his melancholies, and common-or-garden troubles, as 
though the Universe itself were under an obligation to 
bother itself about them, for it never gets tired of wrap- 
ping up God Himself in the petty misery in which its 

* "Here I stand! I cannot help myself. God help me! 
Amen" — were Luther's words before the Reichstag at Worms. 
— H. B. S. 


troubles are involved. And how about the atrocious form 
of this chronic hobnobbing with God? This Jewish, and 
not merely Jewish, slobbering and clawing importunacy 
towards God!— There exist little despised "heathen 
nations'' in East Africa, from whom these first Christians 
could have learnt something worth learning, a little tact 
in worshipping; these nations do not allow themselves to 
say aloud the name of their God. This seems to me 
delicate enough, it is certain that it is too delicate, and 
not only for primitive Christians; to take a contrast, just 
recollect Luther, the most "eloquent" and insolent peasant 
whom Germany has had, think of the Lutherian tone, in 
which he felt quite the most in his element during his 
-a-titcs with God. Luther's opposition to the medi- 
al saints of the Church (in particular, against "that 
devil's hog, the Pope"), was, there is no doubt, at bottom 
the opposition of a boor, who was offended at the good 
of the Church, that worship-etiquette of the 
sacerdotal code, which only admits to the holy of holies 
the initiated and the silent, and shuts the door against 
the boors. These definitely were not to be allowed a 
hearinir in this planet — but Luther the peasant simply 
it otherwise; as it was, it was not German enough 
for him. He personally wished himself to talk direct, to 
nally, to talk "straight from the shoulder" with 
his God. Well, he's done it. The ascetic ideal, you will 
gui at no time and in no place, a school of good 

- of good manners — at the best it was a 
school lor sacerdotal manners: that is. it contains in 
itself something which was a deadly enemy to all good 


manners. Lack of measure, opposition to measure it is 
itself a "non plus ultra." 


The ascetic ideal has corrupted not only health and 
taste, there are also third, fourth, fifth, and sixth things 
which it has corrupted — I shall take care not to go through 
the catalogue (when should I get to the end?). I have 
here to expose not what this ideal effected; but rather 
only what it means, on what it is based, what lies lurk- 
ing behind it and under it, that of which it is the pro- 
visional expression, an obscure expression bristling with 
queries and misunderstandings. And with this object 
only in view I presumed "not to spare" my readers a 
glance at the awfulness of its results, a glance at its fatal 
results; I did this to prepare them for the final and most 
awful aspect presented to me by the question of the 
significance of that ideal. What is the significance of the 
power of that ideal, the monstrousness of its power? Why 
is it given such an amount of scope? Why is not a better 
resistance offered against it? The ascetic ideal expresses 
one will: where is the opposition will, in which an opposi- 
tion ideal expresses itself? The ascetic ideal has an aim 
— this goal is, putting it generally, that all the other 
interests of human life should, measured by its standard, 
appear petty and narrow; it explains epochs, nations, men, 
in reference to this one end; it forbids any other inter- 
pretation, any other end; it repudiates, denies, affirms, 
confirms, only in the sense of its own interpretation (and 


there ever a more thoroughly elaborated system of 
interpretation?) ; it subjects itself to no power, rather does 
it believe in its own precedence over every power— it 
believes that nothing powerful exists in the world that 
has not first got to receive from "it" a meaning, a right 
to exist, a value, as being an instrument in its work, a 
way and means to its end, to one end. Where is the 
counterpart of this complete system of will, end, and 
interpretation? Why is the counterpart lacking? Where 
is the other "one aim"? But I am told it is not lacking, 
that not only has it fought a long and fortunate fight 
with that ideal, but that further it has already won the 
mastery over that ideal in all essentials: let our whole 
modern science attest this — that modern science, which, 
like the genuine reality-philosophy which it is, manifestly 
believes in itself alone, manifestly has the courage to be 
itself, the will to be itself, and has got on well enough 
without God, another world, and negative virtues. 

With all their noisy agitator-babble, however, they 
effect nothing with me; these trumpeters of reality are 
bad musicians, their voices do not come from the deeps 
with sufficient audibility, they are not the mouthpiece for 
the abyss of scientific knowledge — for to-day scientific 
knowledge is an abyss — the word "science," in such 
trumpeter-mouths, is a prostitution, an abuse, an imper- 
tinence. The truth is just the opposite from what is main- 
tained in the ascetic theory. Science has to-day abso- 
lutely no belief in itself, let alone in an ideal superior to 
Itself, and wherever science still consists of passion, love, 
ardour, suffering it is not the opposition to that ascetic 
ideal, but rather the incarnation of its latest and noblest 


form. Does that ring strange? There are enough brave 
and decent working people, even among the learned men 
of to-day, who like their little corner, and who, just be- 
cause they are pleased so to do, become at times inde- 
cently loud with their demand, that people to-day should 
be quite content, especially in science — for in science there 
is so much useful work to do. I do not deny it — there 
is nothing I should like less than to spoil the delight of 
these honest workers in their handiwork; for I rejoice 
in their work. But the fact of science requiring hard 
work, the fact of its having contented workers, is abso- 
lutely no proof of science as a whole having to-day one 
end, one will, one ideal, one passion for a great faith; the 
contrary, as I have said, is the case. When science is not 
the latest manifestation of the ascetic ideal — but these 
are cases of such rarity, selectness, and exquisiteness, as to 
preclude the general judgment being affected thereby — 
science is a hiding-place for every kind of cowardice, 
disbelief, remorse, despectio sui, bad conscience — it is the 
very anxiety that springs from having no ideal, the suf- 
fering from the lack of a great love, the discontent with 
an enforced moderation. Oh, what does all science nof 
cover to-day? How much, at any rate, does it not try 
to cover? The diligence of our best scholars, their sense- 
less industry, their burning the candle of their brain at 
both ends — their very mastery in their handiwork — how 
often is the real meaning of all that to prevent themselves 
continuing to see a certain thing? Science as a self- 
anaesthetic: do you know that? You wound them — every 
one who consorts with scholars experiences this — you 
wound them sometimes to the quick through just a harm- 


..rd; when you think you are paying them a compli- 
ment you embitter them beyond all bounds, simply be- 
cause you didn't ha\e the finesse to infer the real kind 
of customers you had to tackle, the sufferer kind (who 
n't own up even to themselves what they really are), 
the dazed and unconscious kind who have only one fear — 
coming to consciousness. 


And now look at the other side, at those rare cases, of 
which I spoke, the most supreme idealists to be found 
nowadays among philosophers and scholars. Have we, 
perchance, found in them the sought-for opponents of the 
ascetic ideal, its arti-idcalists? In fact, they believe them- 
selves to be such, these "unbelievers" (for they are all 
of them that) : it seems that this idea is their last rem- 
nant of faith, the idea of being opponents of this ideal, 
so earnest are they on this subject, so passionate in word 
and gesture; — but does it follow diat what they believe 
must necessarily be trite? We "knowers" have grown by 

,'rees suspicious of all kinds of believers, our suspicion 
has step by step habituated us to draw just the opposite 
conclusions to what people have drawn before; that is to 
say, wherever the strength of a belief is particularly prom- 
inent to draw the conclusion of the difficulty of proving 
what is believed, the conclusion of its actual improbability. 
We do Dot again deny that "faith produces salvation'': for 
that very reason we do deny that faith proves anything, — 
a strong faith, which produces happiness, causes suspicion 
of the object of that faith, it does not establish its "truth," 
it d ablish a certain probability of — illusion. What 


is now the position in these cases? These solitaries and 
deniers of to-day; these fanatics in one thing, in their 
claim to intellectual cleanness; these hard, stern, contin- 
ent, heroic spirits, who constitute the glory of our time; 
all these pale atheists, anti-Christians, immoralists, Nihi- 
lists; these sceptics, "ephectics," and "hectics" of the in- 
tellect (in a certain sense they are the latter, both collec- 
tively and individually) ; these supreme idealists of knowl- 
edge, in whom alone nowadays the intellectual conscience 
dwells and is alive — in point of fact they believe them- 
selves as far away as possible from the ascetic ideal, do 
these "free, very free spirits": and yet, if I may reveal 
what they themselves cannot see — for they stand too near 
themselves: this ideal is simply their ideal, they represent 
it nowadays and perhaps no one else, they themselves are 
its most spiritualised product, its most advanced picket 
of skirmishers and scouts, its most insidious delicate and 
elusive form of seduction. — If I am in any way a reader of 
riddles, then I will be one with this sentence: for some 
time past there have been no free spirits; for they still 
believe in truth. When the Christian Crusaders in the 
East came into collision with that invincible order of as- 
sassins, that order of free spirits par excellence, whose 
lowest grade lives in a state of discipline such as no order 
of monks has ever attained, then in some way or other 
they managed to get an inkling of that symbol and tally- 
word, that was reserved for the highest grade alone as their 
secretum, "Nothing is true, everything is allowed," — in 
sooth, that was freedom of thought, thereby was taking 
leave of the very belief in truth. Has indeed any Euro- 
pean, any Christian freethinker, ever yet wandered into 


this proposition and its labyrinthine consequences? Does 
he know from experience the Minotauros of this den. — I 
doubt it — nay, I know otherwise. Nothing is more really 
alien to these "monofanatics," these so-called "free spir- 
its," than freedom and unfettering in that sense; in no 
pect are they more closely tied, the absolute fanaticism 
of their belief in truth is unparalleled. I know all this 
perhaps too much from experience at close quarters — that 
dignified philosophic abstinence to which a belief like that 
binds its adherents, that stoicism of the intellect, which 
eventually vetoes negation as rigidly as it does affirmation, 
that wish for standing still in front of the actual, the 
factum brutum, that fatalism in ''pctits ja ; ts" (ce petit 
jaitalism, as I call it), in which French Science now at- 
tempts a kind of moral superiority over German, this re- 
nunciation of interpretation generally (that is, of forcing, 
doctoring, abridging, omitting, suppressing, inventing, fal- 
sifying, and all the other essential attributes of interpre- 
tation) — all this, considered broadly, expresses the asceti- 
cism of virtue, quite as efficiently as does any repudiation 
of the senses (it is at bottom only a modus of that repudi- 
ation). Hut what forces it into that unqualified will for 
truth is the faith in the ascetic ideal itself, even though it 
take the form of its unconscious imperatives, — make no 
mistake about it, it is the faith, I repeat, in a mctaphysi- 
' value, an intrinsic value of truth, of a character which 
only warranted and guaranteed in this ideal (it stands 
and falls with that ideal). Judged strictly, there does not 
t a science without its "hypotheses," the thought of 
<nce is inconceivable, illogical: a philosophy, a 
faith, must always exist first to enable science to gain 


thereby a direction, a meaning, a limit and method, a rigid 
to existence. (He who holds a contrary opinion on the 
subject — he, for example, who takes it upon himself to 
establish philosophy "upon a strictly scientific basis" — has 
first got to "turn upside-down" not only philosophy but 
also truth itself — the gravest insult which could possibly 
be offered to two such respectable females!) Yes, there 
is no doubt about it — and here I quote my Joyful Wis- 
dom, cp. Book V. Aph. 344: "The man who is truthful 
in that daring and extreme fashion, which is the presup- 
position of the faith in science, asserts thereby a different 
world from that of life, nature, and history; and in so far 
as he asserts the existence of that different world, come, 
must he not similarly repudiate its counterpart, this world, 
our world? The belief on which our faith in science is 
based has remained to this day a metaphysical belief — 
even we knowers of to-day, we godless foes of metaphysics, 
we, too, take our fire from that conflagration which was 
kindled by a thousand-year-old faith, from that Christian 
belief, which was also Plato's belief, the belief that God 
is truth, that truth is divine. . . . But what if this belief 
becomes more and more incredible, what if nothing proves 
itself to be divine, unless it be error, blindness, lies — 
what if God Himself proved Himself to be our oldest lie?" 
— It is necessary to stop at this point and to consider the 
situation carefully. Science itself now needs a justification 
(which is not for a minute to say that there is such a 
justification). Turn in this context to the most ancient 
and the most modern philosophers: they all fail to realise 
the extent of the need of a justification on the part of the 
Will for Truth — here is a gap in every philosophy — what 


b it caused by? Because up to the present the ascetic 
ideal dominated all philosophy, because Truth was fixed 
as Being, as God, as the Supreme Court of Appeal, because 
Truth was not allowed to be a problem. Do you under- 
stand this "allowed"? From the minute that the belief 
in the God of the ascetic ideal is repudiated, there exists 
a ncd) problem: the problem of the value of truth. The 
Will for Truth needed a critique— let us define by these 
rds our own task — the value of truth is tentatively 
to be called in question. ... (If this seems too laconic- 
ally expressed, I recommend the reader to peruse again 
that passage from the Joyful Wisdom which bears the 
title, ''How far we also are still pious," Aph. 344, and 
best of all the whole fifth book of that work, as well as 
the Preface to The Dawn 0} Day. 


Nol You can't get round me with science, when I 
search for the natural antagonists of the ascetic ideal, 
when I put the question: "Where is the opposed will in 
which the opponent ideal expresses itself?" Science is 
not. by 2 long way, independent enough to fulfil this 
function ; in every department science needs an ideal value, 
a power which creates values, and in whose service it can 
in itself — science itself never creates values. Its 
relation to the ascetic ideal is not in itself antagonistic: 

• iking roughly, it rather represents the progressive force 

in the inner evolution of that ideal. Tested more exactly, 

lion and antagonism are concerned not with the 

[deal itself, but only with that ideal's outworks, its outer 


garb, its masquerade, with its temporary hardening, stif- 
fening, and dogmatising — it makes the life in the ideal 
free once more, while it repudiates its superficial elements. 
These two phenomena, science and the ascetic ideal, both 
rest on the same basis — I have already made this clear — 
the basis, I say, of the same over-appreciation of truth 
(more accurately the same belief in the impossibility of 
valuing and of criticising truth), and consequently they 
are necessarily allies, so that, in the event of their being 
attacked, they must always be attacked and called into 
question together. A valuation of the ascetic ideal inevi- 
tably entails a valuation of science as well; lose no time 
in seeing this clearly, and be sharp to catch it! {Art, I 
am speaking provisionally, for I will treat it on some other 
occasion in greater detail, — art, I repeat, in which lying 
is sanctified and the will for deception has good conscience 
on its side, is much more fundamentally opposed to the 
ascetic ideal than is science: Plato's instinct felt this — 
Plato, the greatest enemy of art which Europe has pro- 
duced up to the present. Plato versus Homer, that is the 
complete, the true antagonism — on the one side, the whole- 
hearted "transcendental," the great defamer of life; on the 
other, its involuntary panegyrist, the golden nature. An 
artistic subservience to the service of the ascetic ideal is 
consequently the most absolute artistic corruption that 
there can be, though unfortunately it is one of the most 
frequent phases, for nothing is more corruptible than an 
artist.) Considered physiologically, moreover, science 
rests on the same basis as does the ascetic ideal : a certain 
impoverishment 0} life is the presupposition of the latter 
as of the former— add, frigidity of the emotions, slacken- 


ing of the tempo, the substitution of dialectic for instinct, 
usncss impressed on mien and gesture (seriousness, 
that most unmistakable sign of strenuous metabolism, of 
Struggling, toiling life). Consider the periods in a nation 
in which the learned man comes into prominence; they 
are the periods of exhaustion, often of sunset, of decay — 
the effervescing strength, the confidence in life, the confi- 
dence in the future are no more. The preponderence of 
the mandarins never signifies any good, any more than 
does the advent of democracy, or arbitration instead of 
war, equal rights for women, the religion of pity, and all 
the other symptoms of declining life. (Science handled as 
a problem! what is the meaning of science? — upon this 
point the Treface to the Birth of Tragedy.) No! this 
"modern science" — mark you this well — is at times the 
best ally for the ascetic ideal, and for the very reason that 
it is the ally which is most unconscious, most automatic, 
most secret, and most subterranean! They have been 
playing into each other's hands up to the present, have 
these "poor in spirit" and the scientific opponents of that 
ideal (take care, by the bye, not to think that these op- 
ponents are the antithesis of this ideal, that they are the 
rich in spirit — that they are not; I have called them the 
luetic in spirit). As for these celebrated victories of 
science; there is no doubt that they are victories — but vic- 
tories over what? There was not for a single minute any 
victory among their list over the ascetic ideal, rather was 
it made stronger, that is to say, more elusive, more ab- 
stract, more insidious, from the fact that a wall, an out- 
work, that had got built on to the main fortress and 
disfigured its appearance, should from time to time be 


ruthlessly destroyed and broken down by science. Does 
any one seriously suggest that the downfall of the theologi- 
cal astronomy signified the downfall of that ideal? — Has, 
perchance, man grown less in need of a transcendental so- 
lution of his riddle of existence, because since that time this 
existence has become more random, casual, and superflu- 
ous in the visible order of the universe? Has there not 
been since the time of Copernicus an unbroken progress 
in the self-belittling of man and his will for belittling him- 
self? Alas, his belief in his dignity, his uniqueness, his 
irreplaceableness in the scheme of existence, is gone — 
he has become animal, literal, unqualified, and unmiti- 
gated animal, he who in his earlier belief was almost God 
("child of God," "demi-God"). Since Copernicus man 
seems to have fallen on to a steep plane — he rolls faster 
and faster away from the centre — whither? into nothing- 
ness? into the "thrilling sensation of his own nothingness"? 
— Well! this would be the straight way — to the old ideal? 
— All science (and by no means only astronomy, with re- 
gard to the humiliating and deteriorating effect of which 
Kant has made a remarkable confession, "it annihilates my 
own importance"), all science, natural as much as un- 
natural— -by unnatural I mean the self-critique of reason 
— nowadays sets out to talk man out of his present opinion 
of himself, as though that opinion had been nothing but 
a bizarre piece of conceit; you might go so far as to say 
that science finds its peculiar pride, its peculiar bitter 
form of stoical ataraxia, in preserving man's contempt 0} 
himself, that state which it took so much trouble to bring 
about, as man's final and most serious claim to self-appre- 
ciation (rightly so, in point of fact, for he who despises 


is always "one who has not forgotten how to appreciate"). 
But does all this involve any real effort to counteract the 
ascetic ideal? Is it really seriously suggested that Kant's 
victory over the theological dogmatism about "God," 
"Soul," "Freedom," "Immortality," has damaged that 
ideal in any way (as the theologians have imagined to be 
the case for a long time past)? — And in this connection 
it does not concern us for a single minute, if Kant him- 
self intended any such consummation. It is certain that 
from the time of Kant every type of transcendental ist is 
playing a winning game — they are emancipated from the 
theologians; what luck! — he has revealed to them that 
secret art, by which they can now pursue their "heart's 
desire" on their own responsibility, and with all the respec- 
tability of science. Similarly, who can grumble at the 
agnostics, reverers, as they are, of the unknown and the 
absolute mystery, if they now worship their very query 
as God? (Xaver Doudan talks somewhere of the ravages 
which V habitude d'admirer I'inintelligible au lieu de rester 
tout simplcmcnt dans Vinconnu has produced — the 
ancients, he thinks, must have been exempt from those 
ravages.) Supposing that everything, "known" to man, 
fails to satisfy his desires, and on the contrary contradicts 
and horrifies them, what a divine way out of all this to be 
able to look for the responsibility, not in the "desiring" 
but in "knowing"! — "There is no knowledge. Conse- 
quently there is a God"; what a novel elegantia syllo 
gismi! what a triumph for the ascetic ideal! 


Or, perchance, does the whole of modern history show 


1 its demeanour greater confidence in life, greater con- 

dence in its ideals? Its loftiest pretension is now to be 

mirror; it repudiates all teleology; it will have no more 

proving"; it disdains to play the judge, and thereby 

lows its good taste — it asserts as little as it denies, it 

xes, it "describes." All this is to a high degree ascetic, 

ut at the same time it is to a much greater degree nihi- 

stic; make no mistake about this! You see in the his- 

Drian a gloomy, hard, but determined gaze, — an eye that 

ioks out as an isolated North Pole explorer looks out 

perhaps so as not to look within, so as not to look back? ) 

-there is snow — here is life silenced, the last crows which 

aw here are called "whither?" "Vanity," "Nada" — here 

;Othing more flourishes and grows, at the most the meta- 

lolitics of St. Petersburg and the "pity" of Tolstoi. But 

,s for that other school of historians a perhaps still more 

modern" school, a voluptuous and lascivious school which 

•gles life and the ascetic ideal with equal fervour, which 

ises the word "artist" as a glove, and has nowadays es- 

ablished a "corner" for itself, in all the praise given to 

:ontemplation ; oh, what a thirst do these sweet intellec- 

uals excite even for ascetics and winter landscapes! Nay! 

rhe devil take these "contemplative" folk! How much 

tefer would I wander with those historical Nihilists 

hrough the gloomiest, grey, cold mist! — nay, I shall not 

nind listening (supposing I have to choose) to one who 

3 completely unhistorical and anti-historical (a man, like 

)uhring for instance, over whose periods a hitherto shy 

,nd unavowed species of "beautiful souls" has grown in- 

oxicated in contemporary Germany, the species anarchis- 

ica within the educated proletariate). The "contempla- 

ive" are a hundred times worse — I never knew anything 


which produced such intense nausea as one of those "ob- 
jective" chairs* one of those scented mannikins-about- 
town of history, a thing half-priest, half-satyr (Renan 
parfum), which betrays by the high, shrill falsetto of his 
applause what he lacks and where he lacks it, who betrays 
where in this case the Fates have plied their ghastly 
shears, alas: in too surgeon-like a fashion! This is dis- 
tasteful to me, and irritates my patience; let him keep 
patient at such sights who has nothing to lose thereby, — 
such a sight enrages me, such spectators embitter me 
tinst the "play," even more than does the play itself 
(history itself, you understand); Anacreontic moods im- 
perceptibly come over me. This Nature, who gave to the 
10m, to the lion its ydo\i' 6§6vrcov, for what 
purpose did Nature give me my foot? — To kick, by St. 
Anacreon, and not merely to run away! To trample on 
all the worm-eaten "chairs," the cowardly contemplators, 
the lascivious eunuchs of history, the flirters with ascetic 
ideals, the righteous hypocrites of impotence! All rever- 
ence on my part to the ascetic ideal, in so far as it is 
hotn'ir So long as it believes in itself and plays no 

pranks on us! But I like not all these coquettish bugs 
who have an insatiate ambition to smell of the infinite, 
until eventually the infinite smells of bugs; 1 like not the 
whited sepulchres with their stagey reproduction of life; 
I like not the tired and the used up who wrap themselves 
in wisdom and look "objective"; I like not the agitators 
dressed up bs heroes, who hide their dummy-heads behind 
the stalking-horse of an ideal; I like not the ambitious 
artists who would fain play the ascetic and the priest, and 

• E.g. Lectureships. 


are at bottom nothing but tragic clowns; I like not, again, 
these newest speculators in idealism, the Anti-Semites, 
who nowadays roll their eyes in the patent Christian- 
Aryan-man-of-honour fashion, and by an abuse of moral- 
ist attitudes and agitation dodges, so cheap as to exhaust 
any patience, strive to excite all the blockhead elements 
in the populace (the invariable success of every kind of 
intellectual charlatanism in present-day Germany hangs 
together with the almost indisputable and already quite 
palpable desolation of the German mind, whose cause I 
look for in a too exclusive diet, of papers, politics, beer, 
and Wagnerian music, not forgetting the condition prece- 
dent of this diet, the national exclusiveness and vanity, the 
strong but narrow principle, "Germany, Germany above 
everything,"* and finally the paralysis agitans of "mod- 
ern ideas"). Europe nowadays is, above all, wealthy and 
ingenious in means of excitement; it apparently has no 
more crying necessity than stimulantia and alcohol. 
Hence the enormous counterfeiting of ideals, those most 
fiery spirits of the mind; hence too the repulsive, evil- 
smelling, perjured, pseudo-alcoholic air everywhere. I 
should like to know how many cargoes of imitation ideal- 
ism, of hero-costumes and high falutin' clap- trap, how 
many casks of sweetened pity liqueur (Firm: la religion 
de la souffrance), how many crutches of righteous indig- 
nation for the help of these flat-footed intellects, how 
many comedians of the Christian moral ideal would need 
to-day to be exported from Europe, to enable its air to 
smell pure again. It is obvious that, in regard to this 
over-production, a new trade possibility lies open; it is 

* An illusion to the well-known patriotic song. — H. B. S. 


obvious that there is a new business to be done in little 
ideal idols and obedient "idealists"— don't pass over this 
tip! Who has sufficient courage? We have in our hands 
the possibility of idealising the whole earth. But what 
am I talking about courage? we only need one thing here 
— a hand, a free, a very free hand. 


Enough ! enough ! let us leave these curiosities and com- 
plexities of the modern spirit, which excite as much laugh- 
ter as disgust. Our problem can certainly do without 
them, the problem of the meaning of the ascetic ideal — 
what has it got to do with yesterday or to-day? those 
things shall be handled by me more thoroughly and se- 
verely in another connection (under the title "A Contri- 
bution to the History of European Nihilism," I refer for 
this to a work which I am preparing: The Will to Power, 
an Attempt at a Transvaluation of All Values). The only 
reason why I come to allude to it here is this: the ascetic 
ideal has at times, even in the most intellectual sphere, 
only one real kind of enemies and damagers: these are 
the comedians of this ideal — for they awake mistrust, 
•y where otherwise, where the mind is at work seri- 
ously, powerfully, and without counterfeiting, it dispenses 
altogether now with an ideal (the popular expression for 
this abstinence is "Atheism") — with the exception of the 
will jar truth. Hut this will, this remnant of an ideal, is, 
If you will believe me, that ideal itself in its severest and 
I formulation, esoteric through and through. 
■tripped of all outworks, and consequently not so much 


its remnant as its kernel. Unqualified honest atheism 
(and its air only do we breathe, we, the most intellectual 
men of this age) is not opposed to that ideal, to the extent 
that it appears to be; it is rather one of the final phases 
of its evolution, one of its syllogisms and pieces of inher- 
ent logic — it is the awe-inspiring catastrophe of a two- 
thousand-year training in truth, which finally forbids itself 
the lie of the belief in God. (The same course of develop- 
ment in India — quite independently, and consequently of 
some demonstrative value — the same ideal driving to the 
same conclusion the decisive point reached five hundred 
years before the European era, or more precisely at the 
time of Buddha — it started in the Sankhyam philosophy, 
and then this was popularised through Buddha, and made 
into a religion.) 

What, I put the question with all strictness, has really 
triumphed over the Christian God? The answer stands 
in my Joyful Wisdom, Aph. 357: "the Christian morality 
itself, the idea of truth, taken as it was with increasing 
seriousness, the confessor-subtlety of the Christian con- 
science translated and sublimated into the scientific con- 
science into intellectual cleanness at any price. Regard- 
ing Nature as though it were a proof of the goodness and 
guardianship of God; interpreting history in honour of a 
divine reason, as a constant proof of a moral order of the 
world and a moral teleology; explaining our own personal 
experiences, as pious men have for long enough explained 
them, as though every arrangement, every nod, every sin- 
gle thing were invented and sent out of love for the sal- 
vation of the soul; all this is now done away with, all this 
has the conscience against it, and is regarded by every 


subtler conscience as disreputable, dishonourable, as lying, 
feminism, weakness, cowardice — by means of this severity, 
if by means of anything at all, are we, in sooth, good 
Europeans and heirs of Europe's longest and bravest self- 
. ry." . . . All great things go to ruin by reason of 
themselves, by reason of an act of self -dissolution: so 
wills the law of life, the law of necessary "self-mastery" 
even in the essence of life — ever is the law-giver finally 
exposed to the cry, "patere legem quam ipse tulisti" ; in 
thus wise did Christianity go to ruin as a dogma, through 
its own morality; in thus wise must Christianity go again 
to ruin to-day as a morality — we are standing on the 
threshold of this event. After Christian truthfulness has 
drawn one conclusion after the other, it finally draws its 
strongest conclusion, its conclusion against itself; this, 
however, happens, when it puts the question, "what is the 
meaning of every will for truth?" And here again do I 
touch on my problem, on our problem, my unknown 
friends (for as yet / know of no friends) : what sense has 
our whole being, if it does not mean that in our own selves 
that will for truth has come to its own consciousness as a 
problem/ — By reason of this attainment of self-conscious- 
00 the part of the will for truth, morality from hence- 
ard — there is no doubt about it — goes to pieces: this 
la that put hundred-act play that is reserved for the 
next two centuries of Europe, the most terrible, the most 
mysterious, and perhaps also the most hopeful of all 


If you except the ascetic ideal, man, the animal man 


had no meaning. His existence on earth contained no 
end; "What is the purpose of man at all?" was a question 
without an answer; the will for man and the world was 
lacking; behind every great human destiny rang as a re- 
frain a still greater "Vanity!" The ascetic ideal simply 
means this: that something was lacking, that a tremend- 
ous void encircled man — he did not know how to justify 
himself, to explain himself, to affirm himself, he suffered 
from the problem of his own meaning. He suffered also 
in other ways, he was in the main a diseased animal ; but 
his problem was not suffering itself, but the lack of an 
answer to that crying question, "To what purpose do we 
suffer?" Man, the bravest animal and the one most in- 
ured to suffering, does not repudiate suffering in itself: he 
wills it, he even seeks it out, provided that he is shown a 
meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. Not suffering, but 
the senselessness of suffering was the curse which till then 
lay spread over humanity — and the ascetic ideal gave it 
a meaning! It was up till then the only meaning; but any 
meaning is better than no meaning; the ascetic ideal was 
in that connection the "jaute de mieux" par excellence that 
existed at that time. In that ideal suffering found an ex- 
planation; the tremendous gap seemed filled; the door to 
all suicidal Nihilism was closed. The explanation — there 
is no doubt about it — brought in its train new suffering, 
deeper, more penetrating, more venomous, gnawing more 
brutally into life: it brought all suffering under the per- 
spective of guilt; but in spite of all that — man was saved 
thereby, he had a meaning, and from henceforth was no 
more like a leaf in the wind, a shuttle-cock of chance, of 
nonsense, he could now "will" something — absolutely im- 


material to what end, to what purpose, with what means 
he wished: the will itself was saved. It is absolutely im- 
possible to disguise what in point of fact is made clear by 
complete will that has taken its direction from the 
ascetic ideal: this hate of the human, and even more of 
the animal, and more still of the material, this horror of 
the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and 
beauty, this desire to get right away from all illusion, 
change, growth, death, wishing and even desiring — all 
this means — let us have the courage to grasp it — a will 
for Nothingness, a will opposed to life, a repudiation of 
the most fundamental conditions of life, but it is and re- 
mains a will! — and to say at the end that which I said at 
the beginning — man will wish Nothingness rather than 
not wish at all. 

Translated by J. M. KENNEDY. 

(The following twenty-seven fragments were intended by 
Nietzsche to form a supplement to Chapter VIII of Beyond 
Good and Evil, dealing with Peoples and Countries.) 


The Europeans now imagine themselves as representing, 
in the main, the highest types of men on earth. 

A characteristic of Europeans: inconsistency between 
word and deed; the Oriental is true to himself in daily 
life. How the European has established colonies is ex- 
plained by his nature, which resembles that of a beast of 

This inconsistency is explained by the fact that Chris- 
tianity has abandoned the class from which it sprang. 

This is the difference between us and the Hellenes: 
their morals grew up among the governing castes. Thucy- 
dides' morals are the same as those that exploded every- 
where with Plato. 



Attempts towards honesty at the Renaissance, for ex- 
ample: always for the benefit of the arts. Michael Ange- 
lo's conception of God as the "Tyrant of the World" was 
an honest one. 

I rate Michael Angelo higher than Raphael, because, 
through all the Christian clouds and prejudices of his 
time, he saw the ideal of a culture nobler than the Christo- 
Raphaelian: whilst Raphael truly and modestly glorified 
(inly the values handed down to him, and did not carry 
within himself any inquiring, yearning instincts. Michael 
Angelo, on the other hand, saw and felt the problem of 
the law-giver of new values: the problem of the conqueror 
made perfect, who first had to subdue the ''hero within 
himself," the man exalted to his highest pedestal, master 
even of his pity, who mercilessly shatters and annihilates 
everything that does not bear his own stamp, shining in 
Olympian divinity. Michael Angelo was naturally only 
at certain moments so high and so far beyond his age and 
Christian Europe; for the most part he adopted a conde- 
iing attitude towards the eternal feminine in Christi- 
anity; it would seem, indeed, that in the end he broke 
D before her, and gave up the ideal of his most in- 
spired hours. It was an ideal which only a man in the 
t and highest vigour of life could bear; but not a 
man advanced in years! Indeed, he would have had to 
demolish Christianity with his ideal! But he was not 
thinker and philosopher enough for that. Perhaps Leon- 
I Vinci alone of those artists had a really super- 


Christian outlook. He knows the East, the "land of 
dawn," within himself as well as without himself. There 
is something super-European and silent in him: a charac- 
teristic of every one who has seen too wide a circle of 
things good and bad. 


How much we have learnt and learnt anew in fifty 
years! The whole Romantic School with its belief in "the 
people" is refuted! No Homeric poetry as "popular" 
poetry! No deification of the great powers of Nature! 
No deduction from language-relationship to race-relation- 
ship! No "intellectual contemplations" of the supernat- 
ural! No truth enshrouded in religion! 

The problem of truthfulness is quite a new one. I am 
astonished. From this standpoint we regard such natures 
as Bismarck as culpable out of carelessness, such as Rich- 
ard Wagner out of want of modesty; we would condemn 
Plato for his pia fraus, Kant for the derivation of his 
Categorical Imperative, his own belief certainly not hav- 
ing come to him from this source. 

Finally, even doubt turns against itself: doubt in doubt. 
And the question as to the value of truthfulness and its 
extent lies there. 

What I observe with pleasure in the German is his 
Mephistophelian nature; but, to tell the truth, one must 
have a higher conception of Mephistopheles than Goethe 


had, who found it necessary to diminish his Mephisto- 
pheles in order to magnify his "inner Faust." The true 
German Mephistopheles is much more dangerous, bold, 
■wicked, and cunning, and consequently more open- 
hearted: remember the nature of Frederick the Great, or 
of that much greater Frederick, the Hohenstaufen, Fred- 
erick II. 

The real German Mephistopheles crosses the Alps, and 
believes that everything there belongs to him. Then he 
recovers himself, like Winckelmann, like Mozart. He 
looks upon Faust and Hamlet as caricatures, invented to 
be laughed at, and upon Luther also. Goethe had his good 
German moments, when he laughed inwardly at all these 
things. But then he fell back again into his cloudy moods. 


Perhaps the Germans have only grown up in a wrong 
climate! There is something in them that might be Hel- 
lenic! — something that is awakened when they are brought 
into touch with the South — Winckelmann, Goethe, Mo- 
zart. We should not forget, however, that we are still 
young. Luther is still our last event; our last book is still 
the Bible. The Germans have never yet "moralised." 
Also, the very food of the Germans was their doom: its 
consequence, Philistinism. 

The Germans are a dangerous people: they are experts 
at inventing intoxicants. Gothic, rococo (according to 
Semper), the historical sense and exoticism, Hegel, Rich- 


ard Wagner — Leibniz, too (dangerous at the present day) 
— (they even idealised the serving soul as the virtue of 
scholars and soldiers, also as the simple mind). The 
Germans may well be the most composite people on earth. 
"The people of the Middle," the inventors of porcelain, 
and of a kind of Chinese breed of Privy Councillor. 


The smallness and baseness of the German soul were 
not and are not consequences of the system of small states; 
for it is well known that the inhabitants of much smaller 
states were proud and independent: and it is not a large 
state per se that makes souls freer and more manly. The 
man whose soul obeys the slavish command: ''Thou shalt 
and must kneel!" in whose body there is an involuntary 
bowing and scraping to titles, orders, gracious glances 
from above — well, such a man in an "Empire" will only 
bow all the more deeply and lick the dust more fervently 
in the presence of the greater sovereign than in the pres- 
ence of the lesser: this cannot be doubted. We can still 
see in the lower classes of Italians that aristocratic self- 
sufficiency; manly discipline and self-confidence still form 
a part of the long history of their country: these are vir- 
tues which once manifested themselves before their eyes. 
A poor Venetian gondolier makes a far better figure than 
a Privy Councillor from Berlin, and is even a better man 
in the end — any one can see this. Just ask the women. 

Most artists, even some of the greatest (including the 


historians) have up to the present belonged to the serving 
classes (whether they serve people of high position or 
princes or women or "the masses"), not to speak of their 
dependence upon the Church and upon moral law. Thus 
Rubens portrayed the nobility of his age; but only accord- 
in g to their vague conception of taste, not according to 
his own measure of beauty — on the whole, therefore, 
against his own taste. Van Dyck was nobler in this re- 

■ ct: who in all those whom he painted added a certain 
amount of what he himself most highly valued: he did 
not descend from himself, but rather lifted up others to 
himself when he "rendered." 

The slavish humility of the artist to his public (as Se- 
bastian Bach has testified in undying and outrageous 
words in the dedication of his High Mass) is perhaps 
more difficult to perceive in music; but it is all the more 
deeply engrained. A hearing would be refused me if I 
endeavoured to impart my views on this subject. Chopin 
possesses distinction, like Van Dyck. The disposition of 
Beethoven is that of a proud peasant; of Haydn, that of 
a proud servant. Mendelssohn, too, possesses distinction 
— like Goethe, in the most natural way in the world. 


We could at any time have counted on the fingers of 

one hand those German learned men who possessed wit: 

the remainder have understanding, and a few of them, 

happily, that famous "childlike character" which di- 

• . . It is our privilege: with this "divination" Ger- 

irnce has discovered some things which we can 


hardly conceive of, and which, after all, do not exist, per- 
haps. It is only the Jews among the Germans who do not 
"divine" like them. 


As Frenchmen reflect the politeness and esprit of French 
society, so do Germans reflect something of the deep, pen- 
sive earnestness of their mystics and musicians, and also 
of their silly childishness, The Italian exhibits a great 
deal of republican distinction and art, and can show him- 
self to be noble and proud without vanity. 


A larger number of the higher and better-endowed men 
will, I hope, have in the end so much self-restraint as to 
be able to get rid of their bad taste for affectation and 
sentimental darkness, and to turn against Richard Wagner 
as much as against Schopenhauer. These two Germans 
are leading us to ruin; they flatter our dangerous quali- 
ties. A stronger future is prepared for us in Goethe, 
Beethoven, and Bismarck than in these racial aberrations. 
We have had no philosophers yet. 


The peasant is the commonest type of noblesse, for he 
is dependent upon himself most of all. Peasant blood is 
still the best blood in Germany — for example, Luther, 
Niebuhr, Bismarck. 


Bismarck a Slav. Let any one look upon the face of 
Germans. Everything that had manly, exuberant blood 
in it went abroad. Over the smug populace remaining, 
the slave-souled people, there came an improvement from 
abroad, especially by a mixture of Slavonic blood. 

The Brandenburg nobility and the Prussian nobility in 
general (and the peasant of certain North German dis- 
tricts i , comprise at present the most manly natures in 

That the manliest men shall rule: this is only the natural 
order of things. 


The future of German culture rests with the sons of 
the Prussian officers. 


There has always been a want of wit in Germany, and 
mediocre heads attain there to the highest honours, be- 
cause even they are rare. What is most highly prized is 
diligence and perseverance and a certain cold-blooded, 
critical outlook, and, for the sake of such Qualities, Ger- 
man scholarship and the German military system have 
become paramount in Europe. 


rliaments may be very useful to a strong and versa- 
tile Btatesman: he has something there to rely upon (every 


such thing must, however, be able to resist! ) — upon which 
he can throw a great deal of responsibility. On the whole, 
however, I could wish that the counting mania and the 
superstitious belief in majorities were not established in 
Germany, as with the Latin races, and that one could 
finally invent something new even in politics! It is sense- 
less and dangerous to let the custom of universal suffrage 
— which is still but a short time under cultivation, and 
could easily be uprooted — take a deeper root: whilst, of 
course, its introduction was merely an expedient to steer 
clear of temporary difficulties. 


Can any one interest himself in this German Empire? 
Where is the new thought? Is it only a new combination 
of power? All the worse, if it does not know its own mind. 
Peace and laisser alter are not types of politics for which 
I have any respect. Ruling, and helping the highest 
thoughts to victory — the only things that can make me 
interested in Germany. England's small-mindedness is 
the great danger now on earth. I observe more inclina- 
tion towards greatness in the feelings of the Russian Nihi- 
lists than in those of the English Utilitarians. We require 
an intergrowth of the German and Slav races, and we re- 
quire, too, the cleverest financiers, the Jews, for us to 
become masters of the world. 

(a) The sense of reality. 

(b) A giving-up of the English principle of the people's 
right of representation. We require the representation of 
the great interests. 


We require an unconditional union with Russia, 
. . with a mutual plan of action which shall not per- 
mit any English schemata to obtain the mastery in Russia. 
No American future! 

( d) A national system of politics is untenable, and em- 
barrassment by Christian views is a very great evil. In 
Europe all sensible people are sceptics, whether they say 
so or not. 


I >ee over and beyond all these national wars, new "em- 
pires," and whatever else lies in the foreground. What I 
am concerned with — for I see it preparing itself slowly and 
tatingly — is the United Europe. It was the only real 
., the one impulse in the souls, of all the broad-minded 
and deep-thinking men of this century — this preparation 
of a new synthesis, and the tentative effort to anticipate 
the future of "the European." Only in their weaker mo- 
ments, or when they grew old, did they fall back again 
into the national narrowness of the "Fatherlanders" — 
then they were once more "patriots." I am thinking of 
men like Napoleon, Hcinrich Heine, Goethe, Beethoven, 
dhal, Schopenhauer. Perhaps Richard Wagner like- 
:s to their number, concerning whom, as a 
successful type of German obscurity, nothing can be said 
without some such ''perhaps. - ' 

But to the help of such minds as feel the need of a new 

unity there comes a great explanatory economic fact: 

the small States of Europe — I refer to all our present 

and "empires"— will in a short time become 


economically untenable, owing to the mad, uncontrolled 
struggle for the possession of local and international trade. 
Money is even now compelling European nations to 
amalgamate into one Power. In order, however, that Eu- 
rope may enter into the battle for the mastery of the 
world with good prospects of victory (it is easy to per- 
ceive against whom this battle will be waged), she must 
probably "come to an understanding" with England. The 
English colonies are needed for this struggle, just as much 
as modern Germany, to play her new role of broker and 
middleman, requires the colonial possessions of Holland. 
For no one any longer believes that England alone is strong 
enough to continue to act her old part for fifty years 
more; the impossibility of shutting out homines novi from 
the government will ruin her, and her continual change 
of political parties is a fatal obstacle to the carrying out 
of any tasks which require to be spread out over a long 
period of time. A man must to-day be a soldier first and 
foremost that he may not afterwards lose his credit as a 
merchant. Enough ; here, as in other matters, the coming 
century will be found following in the footsteps of Na- 
poleon — the first man, and the man of greatest initiative 
and advanced views, of modern times. For the tasks of 
the next century, the methods of popular representation 
and parliaments are the most inappropriate imaginable. 


The condition of Europe in the next century will once 
again lead to the breeding of manly virtues, because men 
will live in continual danger. Universal military service 


ifl already the curious antidote which we possess for the 
effeminacy of democratic ideas, and it has grown up out 
of the struggle of the nations. (Nation — men who speak 
one language and read the same newspapers. These men 
call themselves "nations," and would far too readily 
trace their descent from the same source and through the 
same history; which, however, even with the assistance of 
the most malignant lying in the past, they have not suc- 
ceeded in doing.) 


What quagmires and mendacity must there be about if 
it is possible, in the modern European hotch-potch, to 
raise questions of "race"! (It being premised that the 
origin of such writers is not in Horneo and Borneo.) 


Maxim: To associate with no man who takes any part 
in the mendacious race swindle. 


With the freedom of travel now existing, groups of men 
of the same kindred can join together and establish com- 
munal habits and customs. The overcoming of "na- 

To make Europe a centre of culture, national stupidi- 


ties should not make us blind to the fact that in the higher 
regions there is already a continuous reciprocal depend- 
ence. France and German philosophy. Richard Wagner 
and Paris (1830-50). Goethe and Greece. All things are 
impelled towards a synthesis of the European past in the 
highest types of mind. 


Mankind has still much before it — how, generally speak- 
ing, could the ideal be taken from the past? Perhaps 
merely in relation to the present, which latter is possibly 
a lower region. 


This is our distrust, which recurs again and again ; our 
care, which never lets us sleep; our question, which no 
one listens to or wishes to listen to ; our Sphinx, near which 
there is more than one precipice: we believe that the men 
of present-day Europe are deceived in regard to the things 
which we love best, and a pitiless demon (no, not pitiless, 
only indifferent and puerile) — plays with our hearts and 
their enthusiasm, as it may perhaps have already played 
with everything that lived and loved ; I believe that every- 
thing which we Europeans of to-day are in the habit of 
admiring as the values of all these respected things called 
"humanity," "mankind," "sympathy," "pity," may be of 
some value as the debilitation and moderating of certain 
powerful and dangerous primitive impulses. Nevertheless, 
in the long run all these things are nothing else than the 


belittlement of the entire type "man," his mediocrisation, 
if in such a desperate situation I may make use of such 
a desperate expression. I think that the commedia 
umana for an epicurean spectator-god must consist in 
this: that the Europeans, by virtue of their growing moral- 
ity, believe in all their innocence and vanity that they are 
rising higher and higher, whereas the truth is that they are 
sinking lower and lower — i.e., through the cultivation of all 
the virtues which are useful to a herd, and through the 
repression of the other and contrary virtues which give rise 
to a new, higher, stronger, masterful race of men — the 
fir>t-named virtues merely develop the herd-animal in 
man and stabilitate the animal "man," for until now man 
has been "the animal as yet unstabilitated." 


Genius and Epoch. — Heroism is no form of selfish- 
ness, for one is shipwrecked by it. . . . The direction of 
power is often conditioned by the state of the period in 
which the great man happens to be born; and this fact 
brings about the superstition that he is the expression of 
ime. Hut this same power could be applied in sev- 
eral different ways; and between him and his time there 
is always this difference: that public opinion always wor- 
ships the herd instinct, — i.e., the instinct of the weak, — 
while he, the strong man, fights for strong ideals. 


The fate now overhanging Europe is simply this: that it 


is exactly her strongest sons that come rarely and late to 
the spring-time of their existence; that, as a rule, when 
they are already in their early youth they perish, sad- 
dened, disgusted, darkened in mind, just because they 
have already, with the entire passion of their strength, 
drained to the dregs the cup of disillusionment, which in 
our days means the cup of knowledge, and they would not 
have been the strongest had they not also been the most 
disillusioned. For that is the test of their power — they 
must first of all rise out of the illness of their epoch to 
reach their own health. A late spring-time is their mark 
of distinction; also, let us add, late merriment, late folly, 
the late exuberance of joy! For this is the danger of 
to-day: everything that we loved when we were young 
has betrayed us. Our last love — the love which makes us 
acknowledge her, our love for Truth — let us take care that 
she, too, does not betray us! 



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ern Library," including those published 
during the Fall of Nineteen Hundred 
and Twenty-one. New titles are added 
in the Spring and Fall of every year. 

Complete List of Titles 

For convenience in ordering please use number at right of title 

A MODERN BOOK OF CRITICISMS (81) Edited with an 

Introduction by LUDWIG LEWISOHN 

Winesburg, Ohio, (104) 

The Seven That Were Hanged and The Red Laugh (45) 
Introduction by THOMAS SELTZER 

Rezanov (71) Introduction by WILLIAM MARION REEDY 
BALZAC, HONORE DE (1799-1850) 

Short Stories (40) 

His Prose and Poetry (70) 

64 Black and White Reproductions (42) Introduction by 
BEERBOHM, MAX (1872- ) 

Zuleika Dobson (50) Introduction by FRANCIS HACKETT 

Introduction by ARTHUR B. REEVE 

Edited with an Introduction by ALEXANDER JESSUP 

Edited with an Introduction by THOMAS SELTZER 
BLAKE, WILLIAM (1757-1827) 

Poems (91) Edited with notes by WILLIAM BUTLER 
BUTLER, SAMUEL (1835-1902) 

The Way of All Flesh (13) 

Beyond Life* (25) Introduction by GUY HOLT 

Love's Coming of Age (51) 
CHEKHOV, ANTON (1860-1904) 

Rothschild's Fiddle and Thirteen Other Stories (31) 
CHESTERTON, G. K. (1874- ) 

The Man Who Was Thursday (35) 

Edited with an Introduction by Dr. BENJ. HARROW 
CRANE, STEPHEN (1870- ) 

Men, Women and Boats (102) Introduction by VINCENT 

The Flame of Life (65) 

The Triumph of Death (112) Introduction by BURTON 

Poems (60) 

Modern Library of the World's Best Books 

DAUDET, ALPHONSE (1840-1397) 

Sapho (85) In same volume Prevost's " Manon Lescaut " 

Poor People (10) Introduction by THOMAS SELTZER 
DOWSON, ERNEST (1867-1900) 

Poems and Prose (74) Introduction by ARTHUR SYMOXS 

Free and Other Stories (50) Introduction by H. L. 
DUNSANY, LORD (Edward John Plunkett) (1878- ) 

A Dreamer's Tales (34) Introduction by PADRIAC COLUM 

Book of Wonder (43) 

The New Spirit (95) Introduction by the author 

A Symposium, including Essays by Haeckel, Thomson, 
Weismann, etc. 
FLAUBERT, GUSTAVE (1821-1880) 

Madame Bovary (28) 

The Temptation of St. Anthony (92) Translated by LAF- 
FLEMING, MARJORIE (1803-1811) 

Marjorie Fleming's Book (93) Introduction by CLIFFORD 

The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (22) Introduction by 

The Queen Pedauque (110) Introduction by JAMES 

The Red Lily (7) 

Thais (67) Introduction by HENDRIK \Y. VAN LOON 

John Uhl (101) Introduction by LUDWIG LEWISOHN 

Mile, de Maupin (53) 
GEORGE, W. L. (1832- ) 

A Bed of Roses (75) Introduction by EDGAR SALTUS 
GILBERT, W. S. (1836-1911) 

The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe, The 
Gondoliers, (26) Introduction by CLARENCE DAY, Jr. 
GISSING, GEORGE, (1857-1903) 

The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (46) Introduction 
De GONCOURT, E. and J. (1322-1896) (1830-1870) 

Rente Mauperin (76) Introduction by EMILE ZOLA 
GORKY, MAXIM (1868- ) 

Creatures That Once Were Men and Four Other Stories 
M8) Introduction br G. I- CHESTERTON 

Modern Library of the World's Best Books 

HARDY, THOMAS (1840- ) 

The Mayor of Casterbridge (17) Introduction by JOYCE 

Erik Dorn (29) Introduction by BURTON RASCOE 
HUDSON, W. H. (1862- ) 

Green Mansions (89) Introduction by JOHN GALS- 

The Cabin (69) Introduction by JOHN GARRETT 
IBSEN, HENRIK (1828-1906) 

A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People (6) ; 
Hedda Gabler, Pillars of Society, The Master Builder 

(36) Introduction by H. L. MENCKEN 
The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, The League of Youth (54) 
JAMES, HENRY (1843-1916) 

Daisy Miller and An International Episode (63) 

Soldiers Three (3) 

Men in War (88) 
LAWRENCE, D. H. (1887- ) 

Sons and Lovers (109) Introduction by JOHN MAC/ 
POETRY (107) Edited with an introduction by RICHARD 
LOTI, PIERRE (1850- ) 

Madame Chrysantheme (94) 
MACY, JOHN (1877- ) 

The Spirit of American Literature (56) 

A Miracle of St. Antony, Pelleas and Melisande, The 
Death of Tintagiles, Alladine and Palomides, Interior, 
The Intruder (11) 
DeMAUPASSANT, GUY (1850-1893) 

Love and Other Stories (72) Edited and translated with 

an Introduction by MICHAEL MONAHAN 
Mademoiselle Fifi, and Twelve Other Stories (8); Une 
Vie (57) Introduction by HENRY JAMES 
MEREDITH, GEORGE (1828-1909) 

Diana of the Crossways (14) Introduction by ARTHUR 

Plays (78) Introduction by WALDO FRANK 
MOORE, GEORGE (1853- ) 

Confessions of a Young Man (16) Introduction by 

Modern Library of the World's Best Books 


Tales of Mean Streets (100) Introduction by H. L. 

Thus Spake Zarathustra (9) Introduction by FRAU 

Beyond Good and Evil (20) Introduction by WILLARD 

Genealogy of Morals (62) 
O'NEILL, EUGENE (1888-) 

The Moon of the Carribbees and Six Other Plays of the 
Sea (111) Introduction by GEORGE JEAN NATHAN 

In a Winter City (24) Introduction by CARL VAN 
PAINE, THOMAS (1737-1809) 

Selections from the Writings of Thomas Paine (1C8) 
Edited with an Introduction by CARL VAN DOREN 
PATER, WALTER (1839-1894) 
Marius the Epicurean (90) 

The Renaissance (86) Introduction by ARTHUR SYMONS 

Condeii-st-d. Introduction by RICHARD LE GALLIEXNE 

Manon Lescaut (85) In same volume with Daudet's Sapho 

A Symposium of the latest expressions by the leaders of 
the various schools of the new psychology. Edited by 
RODIN, THE ART OF (1840-1917) 

64 Black and White Reproductions (41) Introduction by 

Anatol, Living Hours, The Green Cockatoo (32) 

Introduction by ASHLEY DUKES 
Bertha Garlan (39) 

Studies in Pessimism (12) Introduction by T. B. 
SHAW, G. B. (1856- ) 

An Unsocial Socialist (15) 
The Belfry (68) 

Mary, Mary (30) Introduction by PADRIAC COLUM 
Treasure Island (4) 

STIRNER, MAX (Johann Caspar Schmidt) (1806-1859) 
The Ego and His Own (49) 

Modern Library of the World's Best Books 

3TRINDBERG, AUGUST (1849-1912) 
Married (2) Introduction by THOMAS SELTZER 
Miss Julie, The Creditor, The Stronger Woman, Motherly 
Love, Paria, Simoon (52) 

Dame Care (33) 
Poems (23) Introduction by ERNEST RHYS 
HOMPSON, FRANCIS (1859-1907) 
Complete Poems (38) 
^QLSTOY, LEO (1828-1910) 
Redemption and Two Other Plays (77) Introduction by 

The Death of Ivan Uyitch and Four Other Stories (64) 
'URGENEV, IVAN (1818-1883) 
Fathers and Sons (21) Introduction by THOMAS SELTZER 
Smoke (80) Introduction by JOHN REED 
Ancient Man (105) 
ILLON FRANCOIS (1431-1461) 
Poems (58) Introduction by JOHN PAYNE 
Candide (47) Introduction by PHILIP LITTELL 
r ELLS, H. G. (1866- ) 
Ann Veronica (27) 
The War in the Air (5) New Preface by H. G. Wells for 

this edition 
HITMAN, WALT (1819- ) 
Poems (97) Introduction by CARL "SANDBURG 
ILDE, OSCAR (1859-1900) 

An Ideal Husband, A Woman of No Importance (84) 
Dorian Gray (1) 

Fairy Tales and Poems in Prose (61) 
ntentions (96) 
poems (19) 
alome, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Winder- 
mere's Fan (83) Introduction by EDGAR SALTUS 
LSON, WOODROW (1856- ) 

elected Addresses and Public Papers (55) Edited with 
an introduction by ALBERT BUSHNELL HART 
^. Symposium, including Essays by Ellen Key, Havelock 
Ellis, G. Lowes Dickinson, etc. Edited by T. R. SMITH 
ATS, W. B. (1865- ) 
rish Fairy and Folk Tales (44) 



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